Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Students for Concealed Carry.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, American singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne said he was canceling a scheduled show at the University of Texas at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall because of concerns with Texas’ new campus carry law.
LaMontagne, who was scheduled to perform Thursday at 7 p.m., said in his Facebook post that he considers himself a "very open minded human being," but he cannot support the campus carry "ideology." UT-Austin confirmed that he is the first performer to cancel at the school over the law.
"There are a lot of things this country needs more of, but guns aren’t one of them," LaMontagne said. "On behalf of myself and the band, and everyone involved in the tour, I want to express our collective disappointment in the decision to allow guns on campus, and within the campus venue."
According to Austin360, this is the second time LaMontagne has canceled a performance in Austin. Kathy Panoff, Texas Performing Arts director and an associate dean in the College of Fine Arts, referred questions to UT-Austin communications office.
In a statement, UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird expressed regret over LaMontagne canceling his performance but respects his right to do so. He pointed out that state law allows "licensed permit holders to bring concealed handguns into many performance venues on public university campuses, including the Performing Arts Center" at UT-Austin.
Brian Bensimon, state director for Students for Concealed Carry, called the cancellation “political grandstanding.”
“It's likely that Mr. LaMontagne has performed at numerous venues that allow concealed carry without even realizing it,” Bensimon said.
In passing the campus carry law, which took effect in August, Texas lawmakers said they were protecting the Second Amendment and helping to make public university campuses safer. Critics say that college campuses would actually become less safe and that the campus carry law would discourage free discussion in classrooms.
The law applies to people who have concealed handgun licenses. With a few exceptions, state-approved training courses to have a concealed handgun in Texas are limited to those age 21 and older.
The law has been a controversial one at Texas universities — particularly at UT-Austin, where students protested the law with dildos last month.
UT-Austin professors can ban guns from their private offices, but for many, that was not enough. Several UT-Austin professors filed a suit this summer seeking to stop implementation of the law, but a federal judge denied their request for an injunction. And in February, Architecture school Dean Fritz Steiner resigned and headed to another university over campus carry.
"I would have never applied for another job if not for campus carry," Steiner told the Tribune then. "I felt that I was going to be responsible for managing a law I didn't believe in."
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Read more about campus carry here:
- Cocks Not Glocks, a UT-Austin group formed in response to legislation allowing concealed handguns on college campuses, passed out thousands of multicolored sex toys in preparation for a protest.
- Campus carry is now law. Here's what that means.
Thanks to a new state law, properly licensed college students, faculty and visitors across Texas are allowed to carry their concealed guns into campus buildings. But that right will be mostly limited to public schools. All but one private university have opted out of the state's controversial campus carry law.