A college campus. The sound of gunfire. Screams. Bodies strewn about, covered in blood.
What has all too frequently come flashing across our Twitter streams and TV screens in this case is not another actual campus shooting, but a planned demonstration at the University of Texas, Austin.
This Saturday at noon local time, two gun rights groups, Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com plan to conduct a “crisis performance” after marching through Austin openly carrying loaded rifles and other weapons according to Matthew Short, a spokesman for the organizations.
Once near the university, “crisis actors” will use props made of cardboard and fake blood while the sound of gunfire rings out from bullhorns to perform a mock mass shooting incident, complete with pretend armed heroes who will apparently end the fake carnage with cardboard weapons of their own.
The groups intend to highlight their positions regarding “gun free zones”, like the UT Austin campus.
“Gun free zones are killing us,”A statement on the event’s Facebook page reads. “These target rich environments are letting our children be murdered by evil people. Now is the time to stand up, take a walk, and put pressure on politicians to ban Gun Free Zones.”
UT Austin is the site of two campus shootings, the Tower shooting in 1966, in which 14 people were killed and 32 wounded by student Charles Whitman. Whitman was killed by police, ending his siege.
In 1990, student Colton Tooley fired shots on campus from an AK-47, before ending his own life in the main library.
Initially, organizers endeavored to hold the event on campus, however this was met by threats of criminal charges by the Board of Regents. Organizers now intend to hold the event on a public right of way, using the university as a backdrop.
June 1, 2015 marked the passage of S.B. 11, the so called ‘campus carry law’, which Governor Greg Abbott signed in to law.
The law gives concealed carry permit holders legal authority to carry their weapons on campus beginning August 1, 2016.
In response to this, UT Texas has set up an advisory board, will hold two public forums and has also set up a survey to explore how the University intends to comply with the statute, while maintaining public safety.
Given the recent terror attack in San Bernardino and the shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, some feel that this event is in bad taste, and could be potentially dangerous.
Ralph Fisk, the CEO of Fisk Consultants in Hutto, TX, and a published Emergency Management professional with expertise in Active Shooters, Counter-Terrorism and Physical Security, has heard a great deal about this event from his local law enforcement and other campus contacts.
“I understand the right to exercise your first and second amendment rights, as in this case, however that planned demonstration in my opinion is over the top,” Fisk said. “Having a mock ‘active shooter’ incident is better saved for those that exercise these incidents in preparation for an actual attack. As an Open Carry Supporter, I feel this is not something that I personally could support.”
Joan Neuberger, a UT Austin Professor and advocate with the campus organization Gun Free UT, told the Statesman that 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.”
Cover Photo Credit: Derek Key/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)