UT student paper censors pro-campus carry opinions

The student newspaper at the University of Texas-Austin has covered campus carry extensively, publishing no fewer than 18 op-eds opposing the measure this month alone, but when one student submitted a contrasting viewpoint, the piece was summarily rejected.

Allison Peregory, a junior who serves as the UT-Austin campus leader for Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) as well as Chairman of the school’s Young Conservatives of Texas chapter, told Campus Reform that she submitted her op-ed last Wednesday morning, but was informed a few hours later that The Daily Texan would not publish it.

In the op-ed, Peregory seeks to assuage the concerns that have been voiced by opponents of campus carry since the passage of SB 11 in Texas, arguing that available statistics don’t bear out their predictions that the law will lead to “a never-ending cavalcade of assaults, accidents, suicides, and threats.”

Despite having allowed concealed carry for nearly two decades, she explains, “Texas still hasn't devolved into a bloody, lawless wasteland,” and neither have any of the states that already allow campus carry.

Those opinions, however, apparently failed to meet the journalistic standards of The Daily Texan.

“First, we are unable to verify that there has never been an incident at a university due to campus carry, as the author stated,” editor-in-chief Claire Smith told Peregory in an email explaining the rejection. “Secondly, some of the rhetorical statements and devices of the op-ed may be the opinion of the author, but cannot be published as fact by a newspapers [sic].”

Smith cites Peregory’s assertion that campus carry will be a "total non-issue" in Texas in support of the latter point, arguing that the matter “has already created issues on campus through protests, counter-protests, the resignation of several professors, and the safety concerns of many students, none of which are non-issues.”

Peregory responded the next day to dispute Smith’s reasoning, arguing in the process that the rejection suggests an effort to suppress views with which The Daily Texan editors disagree.

“On March 4, you told SCC’s previous regional director that, unlike every other student paper SCC has ever submitted to, the Texan only prints guest columns from students at the university,” Peregory wrote. “Now, seven months later, after the Texan has gotten into the practice of running several anti-campus carry pieces a week, you tell me—a student at the university—that you can’t print my pro-campus carry op-ed because I failed to prove a negative … and because it expresses opinions.”

Addressing Smith’s first objection, she notes that “Nowhere in my piece does it claim, ‘there has never been an incident at a university due to campus carry’.” Rather, Peregory says the op-ed merely claims that “Currently, more than 150 U.S. college campuses allow the licensed concealed carry of handguns … [and] not one of those colleges has seen a single resulting assault, suicide attempt, or fatal accident.”

To assist Smith in verifying that claim, Peregory cites articles from The Texas Tribune, the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and The Texas Tribune, all of which include variations on that assertion.

Regarding the claim made in the op-ed that “campus carry will be a total non-issue in the Lone Star State,” Peregory explains that the statement “is a prediction, not an analysis of the current state of the UT-Austin campus.” Like Texas, she points out, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Mississippi all experienced protests after approving campus carry, “but their predictions of violence never came to be, and their protests eventually died down.

“You’ve printed plenty of editorials and op-eds expressing very dire predictions of what campus carry will lead to on the UT-Austin campus,” she reminds Smith before asking, “are you honestly saying you can’t print an op-ed predicting the opposite?”

Peregory’s claim is borne out by The Daily Texan’s Opinion section, which largely ignored SB 11 in September (the law was passed in June), but has published op-eds opposing the measure on an almost daily basis throughout October. Campus Reform counts 18 op-eds on the subject published between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19, only one, perhaps two, of which present a neutral take on campus carry, and just one of which expresses any recognizable degree of support.

The op-eds predict that a variety of catastrophes could result from campus carry, including the “criminalization of Black people,” an epidemic of guns being left behind in lavatories, intimidation of Muslim students, increased violence against women, and even the suppression of academic freedom. The sole op-ed defending campus carry, conversely, makes the case that those who wish to put firearms to a destructive purpose are unlikely to be dissuaded, and in some cases might even be encouraged, by the existence of gun-free zones.

“I long ago accepted that my personal beliefs don’t align with the majority at UT-Austin, but I always assumed that I had the same right as anyone else to have my opinion heard,” Peregory said in conclusion. “I am beyond disgusted by the lack of journalistic and editorial integrity demonstrated by the editors of The Daily Texan.”

Smith did not respond to requests for comment from Campus Reform, but Peregory elaborated on the incident in an interview with The Blaze.

“A lot of the anti-campus carry pieces made similar claims for anti-carry groups, and I just made a pro-campus carry argument,” she explained, “so I don’t know why mine would be treated any differently.”

Peregory also objected to “the image the anti-gun people are painting of CHL [concealed handgun license] holders here at UT”—namely that they cannot be trusted to act as responsible adults—pointing out that such individuals are trained to operate firearms safely.

“It’s a similar concept to if you buy a car,” she suggested. “If you buy a car, you’re going to have to put gas in the car, you’re going to have to learn how to drive the car, you’re going to have to learn how to maintain the car … so, you know, it is kind of absurd to immediately reduce grown adults down to this super-immature level.”

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