Groups Converge for Mock Shooting Near University of Texas

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Groups Converge for Mock Shooting Near University of Texas.

Gun-rights activist Phil Newsome, right, carries a gun and flags as he takes part in a march near the University of Texas, Saturday. Gun right activists are to stage a mock mass shooting near a university campus to prove that “gun-free zones” in the United States need to be eliminated. ‘Gunmen’ will storm a crowded event and ‘shoot dead’ volunteers as other actors will play the role of “rescuers” who will also be armed with cardboard weapons. The groups Come and Take It Texas and Don’ initially wanted to hold their event on campus, but were told by school officials they would be charged with criminal trespassing.

The bizarre plan comes ten days after the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, one month after the Paris terrorist attacks, and one day shy of the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting where 20 children and six adults were gun down by a 20-year-old shooter. The group instead held their march, with several members openly carrying real assault-style rifles, in an area of shops and restaurants next to campus known as “The Drag.” The groups then slipped away from most media and onlookers and regrouped across the street from a campus chapel to “shoot” six people with cardboard guns. A handful of demonstrators, including a few carrying legal AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, began arriving at the assembly point, a parking garage just west of the 51,000-student campus, shortly before the start of the noon event.

The Austin campus is the site of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history: Sniper Charles Whitman killed 16 people in 1966, shooting dozens of victims from a perch atop the central clock tower. “People are already scared with everything that’s going on in the world and it’s kind of nice to have a safe place which I feel like UT is. Organizers said they expected at least 20 people — and possibly many more — for the event, which took place as Texas colleges and universities prepared to put into place a new state law permitting adult owners of licensed guns to carry them inside campus buildings. The protest will begin at noon (6pm GMT) with gun owners marching with loaded weapons through the streets of Austin, while the ‘performance’ is scheduled to start at 2:30 pm (8:30 pm). The students opposed to the mock shooting were scrambling to equip themselves with noise-making toys to stage their own “mass farting” protest nearby.

In real (shooting) events like this, you don’t know when they’re going to happen, you don’t know where they’re going to happen … we purposely did it that way,” said Jason Orsek, vice president of both gun groups. To have something like that occur, even if it was fake, I think makes people feel very endangered,” junior Jazy Hill told KEYE-TV. “More than likely we’re just going to be moving it 20-30 feet over to the public land that’s adjacent to the property… still using UT as the backdrop for the event,” Pizgatti told KEYE-TV. I encourage people to speak their minds,” he said. “We want the least amount of disturbance.” He argued that many of the nation’s mass shootings, including the deadliest ever at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 dead, occurred in places where guns were not allowed.

Many gun-control advocates and other people, including some who support campus-carry laws, denounced it as highly inflammatory in light of the recent mass attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. There will also been another scenario showing how the situation is different when civilians are armed. “When outside individuals come on campus and violate our rules regarding use of our grounds and facilities, they are asked to leave.

While guns are not currently allowed on college campuses in Texas, state legislators voted to allow them in classrooms and dorms starting next year for people licensed to carry concealed handguns. The demonstration was held two days after a university working group studying how to put the new law into effect recommended, among other things, permitting holstered guns in classrooms but called for generally banning guns in dormitories.

The law requires all tax-supported public universities to comply with the requirements, although amendments that were opposed by gun-rights advocates allow campus administrators to establish gun-free zones. Two such schools, Texas Christian in Fort Worth and Rice in Houston, have opted out of the law, and Southern Methodist University in Dallas is expected to decide in the coming week.

Passage of the legislation was a long-sought victory for gun-rights advocates, who unsuccessfully lobbied three previous legislative sessions to approve the bill. Greg Abbott’s signature on the law in mid-June effectively shifted the debate from the Capitol to college campuses, where student groups representing both sides of the issue have participated in high-profile protests and public forums.

But opponents say the socially charged atmosphere of a university — where students are often under stress and susceptible to using drugs and alcohol — is no place to introduce firearms. At Texas Christian University, the first private school to choose not to follow the law, the underlying question was “do more guns make it safer here or do fewer guns make it safer here?” said Kathy Cavins-Tull, the vice chancellor for student affairs.

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