Texas Tech football: “Guns Up” removal from helmets not due to cancel culture

LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Texas Tech cheerleaders hold the "Guns Up" hand signal before the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
LUBBOCK, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Texas Tech cheerleaders hold the "Guns Up" hand signal before the college football game against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 16, 2019 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /

The phrase “Guns Up” has been removed from the Texas Tech football helmets in 2020 but not because of cancel culture.

Observant Texas Tech football fans on Saturday night picked up on the fact that the phrase “Guns Up” had been removed from the back of the Red Raiders’ helmets.  Fortunately, that decision was not a result of the cancel culture that is so prevalent in our modern society, but rather, a much more common sense line of thinking.

According to KKAM.com, the change was necessitated by tweaks to the design of the helmet decals.  Since 2013, the long-time Texas Tech phrase had been displayed on the back of the helmets as part of the striping that ran down the middle of the headgear.

But KKAM reports that the change was necessary because of a new Under Armour design that made the stripe narrower, thus leaving insufficient room for the “Guns Up” phrase.  The good news is that a Tech official reportedly told KKAM that “the ‘Guns Up’ slogan is not being permanently removed from the football uniforms”.

As our world continues to trend more towards the politically correct side of the ledger, many fans have wondered how long it will be until this beloved phrase will come under attack by those who claim it promotes gun violence.  That process may have begun back in August of 2013 when then Texas Tech professor Michael Grant, Ph.D., took exception to the use of the phrase by then Texas Tech President Duane Nellis.

"According to a 2016 report by EverythingLubbock.com, after Nellis included “Guns Up” in the signature line of an email newsletter that was sent to faculty members, Grant filed a complaint that said in part, “I find it quite embarrassing to admit that I earned two degrees from an institution that employs the offensive sloan [sic] ‘Guns Up’.“I will never contribute while that pattern remains. The romantic ‘Wild West’ context of gun violence continues to cause great harm to a great number of individuals, especially children (Guns Up, kids!).”"

According to James Clark, who authored the piece from which the above quote was taken, another complaint about the “Guns Up” phrase and hand gesture had been received by the university in January of 2013 when a random high school principal from North Dakota, of all places, reached out in protest to  Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, who was then the interim University President and who has been the university’s permanent president since 2016.

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"“We should be cautious in connecting imagery, symbols and gestures at a sporting event to deeper societal issues,” Schovanec responded.“The ‘guns up’ gesture to which you refer is in no way a glorification of hand guns or indicative of a culture of gun advocacy,”"

Interestingly, this topic resurfaced back in 2019 at the Final Four.  With Texas Tech in the national spotlight, extra scrutiny was certain to come about and reporters brought up the phrase to senior guard Brandone Francis, who had just lost a family friend, rapper Nipsey Hussle, to gun violence.  But though Francis was still grieving, he defended the “Guns Up”.

"“It’s part of school history, tradition,’’ Francis said. “But when it comes down to the streets and the real guns that are affecting our world, I’m not OK with that.’’"

Meanwhile, his teammate, Avery Benson also tried to clarify the meaning of the phrase to those would may not have understood, or who were looking to stir up a bit of controversy.

"“When we say ‘Get your guns up,’ there’s no relative meaning to hurting anybody with an actual gun,’’ he said. “It’s just a saying we have.’’"

The “Guns Up” hand signal has been synonymous with Texas Tech football for almost six decades.  In a region of the country were hand signals are a fabric of the college sports landscape, “Guns Up” has become as much a part of Texas Tech culture as the Masked Rider and the Double T.  

"According to TTU.edu, “The sign can be traced back to L. Glenn Dippel, a 1961 alumnus of Texas Tech. He and his wife Roxie were living in Austin and faced the daily presence of the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign used by University of Texas fans. So, the Dippels decided to retaliate. They looked to mascot Raider Red and his raised guns for their inspiration and in 1971 developed the Guns Up hand symbol. The Saddle Tramps and Texas Tech cheerleaders immediately adopted Guns Up and a new tradition was born.”"

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For now, it appears that the use of the slogan and the hand sign isn’t going anywhere and Texas Tech alums and fans hope that never changes.  But in today’s world, there’s always another controversy lurking right around the next corner.  Fortunately, the removal of “Guns Up” from the football uniforms was nothing more than a design change and not a step towards the elimination of the phrase by those in the world that seemingly want to eliminate everything they don’t agree with.