For those who advocate for gun rights, responding to recent shootings like those in San Bernadino and Colorado Springs remains a challenging endeavor. In the face of staunch opposition, they tout that if more Americans were armed with guns, less shootings would happen, despite the growing number of people who believe otherwise. Rather than argue the nuances of statistics, two gun-rights groups in Texas have devised a better way to get their point across.
The groups, Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com, plan to stage a mock mass shooting on the University of Texas campus this weekend. Matthew short, spokesperson for the group, described the event as if it were a school play. Actors would play the roles of victim, shooter and rescuer. Shooters and rescuers would be armed with cardboard weapons as they exchanged shots, with victims lying around covered in fake blood. A bullhorn would provide the appropriate sound effects.
Short told the Statesman, “Criminals that want to do evil things and commit murder go places where people are not going to be able to stop them. When seconds count, the cops are minutes away.”
Naturally, the group was met with opposition. History professor, Joan Neuberger who leads the group Gun Free UT, said that the event was in bad taste. “Staging a mass shooting during an anxious time for students — finals week — not only breaks rules but shows real disrespect for the feelings of students, faculty and staff who don’t want to have guns around them in the first place, but will be forced to put up with guns in public places in 2016,” Neuberger said to the Statesman.
Currently, UT allows people to carry concealed weapons in a limited number of places on campus. In August, revisions will allow people to carry concealed weapons in various university buildings. The group wants students to be prepared.
“We want criminals to fear the public being armed,” Short said. “An armed society is a polite society.”
Recently, the school released a statement saying that if the groups refused to leave the campus when asked, they would be charged with criminal trespassing. Campus spokesperson J.B. Bird stated: “The property or buildings owned or controlled by UT Austin are not, however, open to outside groups for assembly, speech, or other activities, including theatrical performances, as are the public streets, sidewalks, and parks. Only the university itself, faculty, staff and student groups may engage in such activities on campus. This applies equally to an outside protest group, an outside theater troupe, or any outside group wishing to use the facilities or grounds of the university.”
In response to the university’s threat, the groups have opted to move their demonstration to a location near the campus. Undeterred by the backlash, Short promised that the group’s intentions were good.
“We love freedom and we’re trying to make more freedom,” he said.