Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Judge OKs Empty-Holster Protest, With Limits

DALLAS (CN) - Two students who sued their college for the right to wear empty holsters to protest the prohibition of concealed weapons on campuses won a partial victory when a federal judge granted in part - but denied in part - their request for a temporary restraining order.

The students sued the Tarrant County College District last week, demanding the right to wear empty gun holsters at the TCC Northeast campus in Hurst at a protest this week. Plaintiffs Clayton Smith and John Schwertz object to state law and school policies that forbid students from carrying concealed handguns on campus.

U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means ruled that the plaintiffs and other TCC students can wear the empty holsters, wear shirts depicting empty holsters, discuss handgun regulation and distribute literature on handgun regulation in traditional public forum areas on campus, including public streets, sidewalks and common areas.

"However, to the extent that Smith and Schwertz seek to wear empty holsters inside of Tarrant County College District classrooms and their adjacent hallways, their motion is denied," Means wrote.

School administrators had barred similar empty-holster protests by Smith and other students at other TCC campuses, arguing that the college could control the time, place and manner of such protests. The college also banned distribution of literature without a permit and restricted protesters to a "free speech zone" in front of the library.

The plaintiffs said administrators applied district policy to allow the shirts, but forbade the wearing of empty holsters anywhere on campus.

"We're grateful to the court for granting us the right to discuss issues that are so important to us with our classmates and colleagues," said Smith.

A subsequent hearing is set for Nov. 16.

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