Last week, musician Ray LaMontagne decided to cancel a show at the Bass Concert Hall, located on the University of Texas at Austin campus. The reason he gave on Facebook was due to the recently enacted law S.B. 11, otherwise known as “Campus Carry.” Basically, gun owners with conceal carry permits have always been able carry guns on campus, though not in buildings. This provision gives them the right to now carry in buildings, including administrative offices, classrooms, dormitories, student unions, and performance venues. You can read all about it here if you’re interested.
This has been a highly controversial law, as gun issues pretty much always are. In general, the university population was heavily against the law, but it wasn’t a university-specific ordinance; it’s the State of Texas, and UT had no choice but to enact it. A prominent professor left the university because of the law, and there was lots of concern from incoming and returning students about it which resulted in some students declining their offers of admission.
However, this is the first sort of economic issue that’s come up directly related to this law. This performance was booked before the law went into effect, and Bass Concert Hall lost this show specifically because of Campus Carry. It’s a difficult situation — to balance what the community wants with what the law says we have to do, and I can’t fault LaMontagne for cancelling, even at a late date (apparently they were trying quite hard to reach a compromise, but the law is inflexible). It will be interesting from here on out to see how Campus Carry affects the UT community, both in attitude as well as economic opportunity. It strikes me as similar to how H.B. 2, the South Carolina “Bathroom Bill,” began to backfire when corporations started threatening to pull out of the state if it was enforced. Perhaps this is another small but important step.