University of Texas students to wield sex toys in protests against guns

 Guns are on display at Roseburg Gun Shop in Roseburg, Oregon in the US, where  a lone gunman shot at students and killed nine on the Umpqua Community College campus early this month.
Guns are on display at Roseburg Gun Shop in Roseburg, Oregon in the US, where a lone gunman shot at students and killed nine on the Umpqua Community College campus early this month.PHOTO: AFP

AUSTIN, Texas (REUTERS) - "Campus (Dildo) Carry" day is on track at the University of Texas and students who pack sex toys to protest a new law that expands the right to carry guns on campus will not be punished, university officials said on Tuesday.

The protest planned for the start of classes next year is aimed at showing what organisers said is the folly of penalising people up to US$500 under Texas law for violating obscenity rules for having a sex toy on campus while making it legal for a concealed handgun license holder to bring a pistol into the classroom.

Nearly 8,000 people have signed up to strap sex toys to their backpacks on Aug 24, 2016, at the university's flagship campus in Austin on the first day of the fall semester.

On Aug 1 a new, so-called "campus carry" law will go into effect allowing people 21 and older with a concealed handgun license to carry handguns in classrooms and buildings at the University of Texas system, one of the nation's largest with an enrolment of more than 214,000.

"You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well, I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO," wrote protest organiser and University of Texas alumna Jessica Jin, 24.

"Just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play," she added on the event page.

The university said it considers the movement political speech and will not interfere, an official said. "We do not cite students that express free speech," said spokesman Gary Susswein.

Licensed holders have been allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus, but not in buildings, for 20 years, the university said.

The university has held forums about the new law, with discussions overshadowed by mass shootings on campuses, particularly one in Oregon this month that left 10 people dead, including the suspected gunman.

Alumnus Casey Kelver posted on the event page of the sex toy protest that the nature of the demonstration will hinder meaningful conversation about campus carry.

"Only other kids will think it's great, most people think it's incoherent," Kelver wrote.

In forums, students and staff have said allowing more guns on campus from law-abiding concealed license holders will increase security.

But those opposed to the law have been more numerous in the discussions, including more than 300 faculty members who have signed a petition saying they will refuse to allow guns in their classrooms.