Gun rights group to hold fake mass shooting near University of Texas campus

Amid the ongoing debate over guns, the public discourse has turned into an escalation of hyperbole, one that's reached a new peak with the upcoming plans by a group of guns rights advocates in Texas who are planning on staging a mock mass shooting near the campus of the University of Texas in Austin to protest gun-free zones. See also: Fear of a mass shooting can breed its own anxiety The Open Walk and Crisis Performance Event, as it's being called, is set to include a march followed by what's being described as a "theatrical performance," a mock mass shooting with the campus as a "backdrop." The mock shooting scheduled for Saturday will include, according to one of its organizers, fake blood and the sound of bullets played over a bullhorn as well as "rescuers" brandishing cardboard guns. Matthew Short, a spokesman for the gun rights groups Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com, told the Austin American-Statesman, “Criminals that want to do evil things and commit murder go places where people are not going to be able to stop them. When seconds count, the cops are minutes away.” While areas of the University of Texas campus on which guns are allowed are limited right now, a new law which goes into effect August 2016 will greatly expand where concealed carry permit holders may take their weapons. The event raises a few questions, including whether or not passersby, unaware of the pretend proceeding, might be duped into thinking an actual shooting was taking place. And, while others may question the sensitivity of the performance in the wake of deadly mass shootings in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, the University of Texas campus was the site of one of the United States' deadliest mass-shootings: the 1966 Charles Whitman shootings on August 1, 1966. On that day, Whitman, a student at the school, climbed to the top of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, killing 14 people and wounding more than 30 others. In addition, a 15th victim would die years later as a result of wounds suffered that day, and Whitman's wife and mother, who he had killed hours before his shooting spree, would bring the total number of those killed to 17. Neither DontComply.com or Come and Take It Texas has replied to Mashable's request for comment on the event, but we will update if they should respond. As for the university, spokesman J.B. Bird told the Statesman that while the campus prides itself on being "a place for the vigorous exchange of diverse viewpoints," campus grounds are not "open to outside groups for assembly, speech, or other activities, including theatrical performances." Because of this, organizers have shifted the event, originally planned to be held on campus, to just off campus property. They also said they plan to meet with school officials on Thursday. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.