Tarrant County College Bans Symbolic 'Empty Holster' Protest
Tarrant County College
Tarrant County College (TCC) repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of student protesters who intended to participate in the national "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" protest by wearing empty holsters. The protest, held on college campuses throughout the country, is part of an effort to promote "the legalization of concealed carry by licensed individuals on college campuses." Two years in a row, TCC students were told that they could not wear the holsters anywhere on campus and had to confine all protests to tiny "free speech zones," such as the approximately twelve-foot circle of concrete comprising the "free speech zone" on TCC's South Campus. TCC was the only public school in the country that banned the protest. Ultimately, with the help of FIRE and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the students filed a lawsuit to vindicate their rights and defeat TCC's unconstitutional policies and practices. They won a temporary restraining order in 2009, and TCC amended its policies but failed to properly protect constitutional rights. The plaintiffs amended their complaint, and the case went to a hearing in January 2010. In March 2010, the U.S. District Court upheld the students' right to wear empty holsters as part of their protest—even in classrooms—and ruled that a new TCC ban on "cosponsorship" of campus activities was unconstitutional.