Gun rights activists plan to perform a “fake mass shooting” on Saturday in Austin, Texas.
In a promotional post about the event on DontComply.com, Andre Gabriel Esparza describes the event as “a serious, theatrical skit consisting of ketchup and cardboard props to capture the reality of the plot.”
Matthew Short, a spokesman for both of the groups involved, told the Austin-American Statesman that actors will be “shot” with cardboard weapons while gun sounds are played from bullhorns. Other cardboard-armed actors will play rescuers.
When asked by the Statesman if the event could appear in bad taste after recent shootings in San Bernardino and Paris, Short responded, “Not at all. People were able to be murdered people because no one was armed.”
The event is to be preceded by a march with “rifles and pistols on display,” according to another post on DontComply.com.
The event was originally planned to take place on the University of Texas: Austin campus, but a change in location was forced after a school spokesman announced that the campus was not open to outside groups for protest and that groups refusing to leave would be treated as criminal trespassers.
The event is will now take place on an adjacent street, Murdoch Pizgatti, the founder of both groups involved, told The Statesman.
The primary target of the protest groups are gun-free zones, a caveat in Texas’ new campus carry law.
The law allows those with a licence to carry a concealed handgun to bring their weapons into the facilities of public universities, including classrooms and dormitories.
The campus carry law, however, provides that universities may enact “reasonable rules and regulations” regarding carrying weapons on campus. These restrictions are often theorised to include so-called gun-free zones.
On Thursday, the University of Texas Austin’s Campus Carry Working Group released its final report, including its recommendations on restrictions for campus carry. The restrictions were generally in line with proposals mentioned in October by the UT System’s deputy chancellor.
They include the explicit prohibition of carrying handguns at any UT pre-K through 12 school and the recommendation that concealed carry of handguns be prohibited from facilities where licensing requirements necessitate the banning of guns, such as the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory and child-care facilities.
The report also recommends prohibiting concealed carry in patient-care areas, areas where formal hearings are being conducted, and laboratories “where the discharge of a firearm might cause great harm.” It is also recommended that the concealed carry of handguns should be “generally prohibited” from on-campus dormitories, with some exceptions.
Notably, the report does not recommend the designation of classrooms as a gun-free zone. The report reads:
The Working Group is aware of, and sympathetic to, the overwhelming sentiment on campus that concealed carry should not be permitted in classrooms. Every member of the Working Group — including those who are gun owners and licence holders — thinks it would be best if guns were not allowed in classrooms. Nevertheless, the Working Group does not recommend that classrooms should be designated a gun-exclusion zone.
The primary on-campus activity for most of our more than 50,000 students is going to class. Excluding handguns from classrooms would have the effect of generally prohibiting licence holders from carrying their handguns and so would violate S.B. 11. [the campus carry law.]
It goes on to say that banning guns from classrooms would require a potentially dangerous system of gun lockers, the use of which would outweigh the benefits of a classroom ban.
The UT campus group Gun Free UT released a statement in opposition to the report on Thursday.
We categorically reject the recommendation that guns should be allowed in classrooms[.] This recommendation is based on the concern that gun carriers attending class would need to store their weapons and the act of storing them could pose a hazard[.] If gun carriers feel unsafe in storing their weapons, they should leave them at home.
While representatives for the gun groups involved in the event did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, Pizgatti stated in a Facebook post that the demonstration would still take place despite the report’s decision not to ban guns in classrooms.
“There are thousands of gun free zones still out there that need to be banned,” wrote Pizgatti.
Business Insider has reached out to leaders and members of Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com and will update this story if we requests for comment are returned.
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