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Students Sue Texas College Over Holsters

FORT WORTH (CN) - Two students say their college violated their constitutional rights by prohibiting them from wearing empty holsters on campus, to protest the college's prohibition of concealed weapons. The students want to participate in what they say will be a nationwide protest on Monday, Nov. 9, by handling out leaflets on campus "and by wearing empty holsters on their hips."

Clayton Smith and John Schwerz sued Tarrant County College Northeast in Federal Court. They say the Nov. 9 events will protest laws and school policies that prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on campuses.

"Plaintiffs intend their dress to express their support of change of legislation and campus policies, by wearing T-shirts depicting empty holsters with a circle around the holster with a line through it and by wearing empty holsters on their hips," the complaint states. They say that Tarrant County College District administrators "have applied TCCD policy to permit the T-shirts, but forbid wearing the empty holsters on any campus or any classroom."

They say that after an empty-holster protest at the TCC South campus in 2008, the college banned the empty holsters, claiming that the district can control the time, place and manner of all protests. The district also prohibited distribution of literature without a permit and restricted protesters to a "free speech zone" in front of the library, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs want the policies enjoined as unconstitutional. They are represented by Karin Cable with Kirkley Berryman.

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