Refereed article in compilation book (A3)

Triggered: The Imaginary Realities of Campus Carry in Texas

List of Authors: Heiskanen Benita

Place: Leiden, Boston

Publication year: 2022

Book title *: Up in Arms: Gun Imaginaries in Texas

Title of series: European Perspectives on the United States

Volume number: 1

ISBN: 978-90-04-51466-9

eISBN: 978-90-04-51467-6

ISSN: 2666-724X



Self-archived copy’s web address:


When Senate Bill 11 was filed in the Texas legislature in January 2015, the talk in Austin was that this time around, it had a distinct shot of passing. Similar efforts had been proposed before, but they had all fallen short. After the news hit the stands, imaginaries related to firearms on campuses took on a life of their own. The campus community, local newspapers, and activist groups tried to make sense of the hypothetical realities of an armed campus. This chapter probes the debates surrounding the Campus Carry legislation before and after its implementation in Texas in August 2016. Drawing on two town hall-style public debates organized at UT Austin and internet responses related to them, newspaper reporting from the Austin American-Statesman, and firsthand experiences from students, faculty, and administrators, the discussion reveals that debates about firearms frequently have little—if anything—to do with guns. And therein lies their power. What may ostensibly strike one as a debate about self-protection on closer look exposes implicit assumptions about race, gender, and class relations. By disentangling the multiple layers beneath the gun debates, we are faced with a heterogeneous community not only grappling with firearms but multiple, loaded social conflicts amplified within the armed campus space.

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Last updated on 2022-24-08 at 11:50