This Saturday, two gun rights organizations say they will hold a mock mass shooting protest against gun-free zones in front of the University of Texas at Austin. The event will take place off-campus on Guadalupe, a well-trafficked street that runs along the west side of the main university.
Organizers say they will be using cardboard guns, bullhorns to blare bullet noises and red dye to symbolize blood. Actors will portray perpetrators and will “shoot” others who will then “die.” Yet another group of actors with cardboard guns will play the rescuers coming to the victims’ aid.
Universities are in the midst of finalizing their recommendations about how best to implement the state’s new campus carry law passed this year. Wednesday the University of Texas at San Antonio said that permit holders could carry concealed handguns in classrooms under most circumstances, but not in shared dorms or sporting events.
This morning, UT-Austin released their suggestions. The working group assigned to address the issue recommended one highly contentious issue that says that classrooms should not be gun-free or gun-exclusion zones.
“Part of what they want to do here is bring attention to what they say are the dangers of gun-free zones,” Price says.
Originally the groups wanted to hold the protest on the UT campus, but officials rejected the idea.
“Late yesterday afternoon, University of Texas officials said that groups that are not affiliated with UT basically can’t assemble on UT property,” Price says.
According the Price, the groups claim to respect private property rights, so they agreed to hold the protest off-campus.
The mock mass shooting is happening in the shadow the recent San Bernadino shooting and the Paris attacks. It’s also taking place on the same street where many would consider as the first mass shooting at a university in U.S. history. The infamous Tower Shooting in 1966 shook Texans when a gunman killed and injured scores of people from the top of the UT-Austin’s Clock Tower.
Price says the event organizers aren’t worried that the idea is in bad taste, or that the mock mass shooting will backfire. Instead, they said that previous violence goes to show the need to have armed people in these areas in the event of another mass shooting attempt.
“The point they’re trying to make is that, in their eyes, people are vulnerable when good guys aren’t armed,” Price says. “So efforts to establish gun-free zones or maintain gun-free zones jeopardize people’s safety.”
As an organizer told Price, “an armed society is a polite society…. Criminals are less likely to act if those criminals know that there are armed people in any given place.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.