A Texas gun rights group plans to hold a fake mass shooting demonstration Saturday near the University of Texas at Austin to protest gun-free zones.
The group had planned to hold the event on campus, but decided to move it just off campus after the university warned that demonstrators could face criminal trespassing charges.
The event planned by Come And Take It Texas will feature members of the organization acting out a mass shooting with cardboard guns, fake blood, and fake sounds of gun shots, according to a spokesman for the group, which is also known as DontComply.com.
Come and Take It Texas created what it is calling the "Open Carry Walk and Crisis Performance" event because of renewed discussions by politicians and the media about cracking down on gun rights, according to the group's spokesman, Matthew Short. The planned event was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
“We want to bring light to the fact that people are dying because we outlaw guns,” Short said. “We are going to do it as a visual demonstration so that people can get an understanding of what might actually happen in this situation.”
The event violates UT System Board of Regents' rules that prohibit outside groups from assembling on campus, the university said in a statement Wednesday.
"Many groups seek to use the university’s facilities each year and they are all treated equally and are turned away," UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird said in the statement. "For example, we have not allowed the Westboro Baptist Church to protest on campus and have not allowed labor groups to protest on campus."
In response to UT's statement, Short said his group will continue with the demonstration, but will move it slightly.
"It probably will change our plans as far as pushing us 20 feet from where we were going to be standing, but UT is still our backdrop," Short said. "We figured this might come up."
Texas lawmakers passed a campus carry law earlier this year that will require all public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus, though they may create gun-free zones. Private universities can opt out of the law, which goes into effect in August.
UT-Austin has not yet decided whether to create gun-free zones. Short said his group does not want any such zones, which it calls “victim-killing zones." Supporters of gun-free zones – including a group called Gun Free UT — say they want to keep guns out of classrooms, where they say students and teachers are especially vulnerable.
Gun-Free UT did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday's event.
Come and Take It has led many demonstrations across Texas to promote gun rights, including events at the Texas Capitol and the Alamo.
“When seconds count, cops are minutes away," Short said. "People need to have the right to protect themselves.”
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