On Friday, FIRE reported that a federal judge in Texas had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) permitting two students to hold an “empty holder” protest next week outside Tarrant County College’s tiny “free speech zone.” In response to a FIRE-coordinated suit, the court restrained the college from taking action against the students for ”wearing empty holsters, wearing t-shirts depicting empty holsters, discussing handgun regulations, and distributing pamphlets on handgun regulation in traditional public-forum areas including, but not limited to, public streets, sidewalks, and common or park areas.”
This is, quite simply, a commonsense judicial ruling, and it’s a shame that four decades after the Supreme Court’s landmark Tinker case, which allowed high-school students to wear black armbands in class, that colleges believe they can prevent their adult students from wearing T-shirts or empty holsters on a public sidewalk.
A TRO doesn’t end a case, obviously, but it certainly puts the suit off to a promising start. And if present trends continue, yet another unconstitutional university policy will bite the dust. How many more federal cases will it take before universities start repealing these policies on their own?