The groups, Come and Take it Texas and Don’t Comply, intend to hold an open carry march through Austin with loaded weapons, until they arrive at the campus where they will use cardboard guns, “crisis actors”, gunshot sounds blasting through megaphones and fake blood to prove that students need more weapons and that there should not be gun-free zones on campus.
Students attending University of Texas are already permitted to carry in some areas on campus, such as sidewalks and parking lots, and a new law that will go into effect in August will expand places that people with concealed weapons permits may carry their handguns to include dorms, classrooms and other public university buildings. The school will reserve the right to declare some areas “gun-free” however.
The demonstration is set to take place just over a week after the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino that claimed the lives of 14 innocent people and injured 21 more.
Originally, the event was set to take place on the grounds at the University of Texas, but the school has threatened to have them removed for criminal trespass should they refuse to leave when asked as they are not students or faculty. Now, organizers have moved the location to an adjacent lot and will use the university as a backdrop for their performance.
“Within the university community, the campus is a place for the vigorous exchange of diverse viewpoints, which is an essential part of the educational experience,” University of Texas spokesman J.B. Bird told Statesman. “The property or buildings owned or controlled by UT Austin are not, however, open to outside groups for assembly, speech, or other activities, including theatrical performances, as are the public streets, sidewalks, and parks. Only the university itself, faculty, staff and student groups may engage in such activities on campus. This applies equally to an outside protest group, an outside theater troupe, or any outside group wishing to use the facilities or grounds of the university.”
“[We are] opposed to allowing guns in classrooms and faculty offices. The presence of guns, or even their potential presence, would create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that would impede our ability to teach,” members of the UT math department said in a statement.
A group called “Gun Free UT” that has the support of thousands of students and faculty have also spoken out against the protest, saying that they believe their goal is intimidation.
“We love freedom, and we’re trying to make more freedom,” one of the protester organizers told Statesman.