Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.
Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.
The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and Dontcomply.com, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials. A Facebook announcement of the decision said that UT “will be the backdrop to this event."
The university said in a statement that the Austin campus does not permit outside groups staging demonstrations, and that the groups could be arrested for trespassing.
"When outside individuals come on campus and violate our rules regarding use of our grounds and facilities, they are asked to leave. If they do not, it becomes a criminal trespass matter," university spokesman J.B. Bird told The Associated Press.
The planned demonstration, “Life And Liberty Event To End Gun Free Zones,” coincides with final exams, and several students wrote on the event’s Facebook page also requesting that the event be moved off-campus.
The organizing groups say that the purpose of the protest is to “stand up, take a walk, and put pressure on politicians to ban Gun Free Zones.” They believe that restrictions on carrying guns in public places contributes to mass shootings.
Current laws regarding carrying weapons on university campuses are already scheduled to change in Texas. This past June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the so-called “campus carry” bill into law, which would allow license holders to carry concealed handguns on public university campuses in the state, beginning in August 2016.
Although the bill states that public universities would have some authority to regulate the carrying and storage of handguns, it has been met with considerable resistance by both students and faculty.
Several academic departments and schools on the Austin campus have banded together to form “Gun Free UT,” a university-wide movement hoping to ensure that the campus carry bill is repealed.
“[We are] opposed to allowing guns in classrooms and faculty offices. The presence of guns, or even their potential presence, would create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that would impede our ability to teach,” faculty members of the UT math department said in a recent statement.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.