Gun Rights Groups Want To Host A Mock Mass Shooting This Weekend

Photo: Eric Gay/AP Photo.
Gun rights advocates announced Wednesday that they plan to stage a fake mass shooting at the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.

The gun rights groups Come and Take It Texas and plan to use fake blood and cardboard weapons to emphasize a point about getting rid of "gun-free zones" on college campuses, explains the Austin American-Statesman.

The Open Carry Walk and Crisis Performance Event will feature actors pretending to be shot by the cardboard weapons. Matthew Short, a PR spokesman for Come and Take It Texas and, told Refinery29 that the event will be "less dramatized than what people are making it out to be."

Short noted that while loaded guns will soon be allowed on UT's campus, the campus carry law that will go into effect in August could designate gun-free zones on the school grounds. Gun advocates believe that concealed weapons could help people on campus in the event of a mass shooting.

"We believe that the gun-free zones are victim killing zones," Short told Refinery29. According to Short, the average wait time for police response is between 10 and 15 minutes, but many mass shootings take place in less than five minutes, before the police arrive. (I attempted to verify Short's claim about police response times to active shooters but was unable to find data to confirm his statement. Data from Everytown research, however, shows that only about 13% of recent mass shootings in the United States have been in gun-free zones.)

Short explained that the gun rights groups have been planning the demonstration for months, since before the shooting in San Bernardino, CA, which left 14 dead and 21 wounded earlier this month.

After the groups announced the fake mass shooting on Wednesday, a representative for the university said in a statement to the Statesman that the demonstrators may be asked to leave, since they don't have a permit to be on campus. Short told Refinery29 that in response, they will now be holding the event on the sidewalk outside UT's campus, with the university as the backdrop, rather than on the campus itself.

According to Short, Texas is a "battleground" for the United States' gun debate. Short cited the 1966 case where Charles Whitman killed 16 people on UT's Austin campus. According to Short, Whitman was detained by citizens' shooting until police responded to the scene and killed him. "We want criminals…to be afraid of an armed public," Short said. Others view the scene differently, though, noting that Whitman wasn't stopped until the police arrived.

Of course, advocates for gun control would dispute Short's claim about "victim killing zones." While there are examples of armed civilians stopping shooters, the cases are rare — civilians would need to be near the location of the shooting and would need to have their guns on them at the time. And Gun Free UT, a group that advocates against guns on UT's campus, notes that of 160 active shooter incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013, only one incident was stopped by an armed civilian, according to FBI data, while 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed civilians.

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