Texas Open Carry Groups Plan a Mock Mass-Shooting at UT

Come and Take It Texas and Don' are going to hold an open carry walk near the University of Texas at Austin campus on Saturday. Then they're going to have a mock mass-shooting, complete with fake blood, victims, vigilantes and gunshot reports coming from bullhorns.

The festivities are the work of two of the guys behind last month's open carry walk on the Katy Trail, which was held in defiance of a Dallas Police Department request to keep guns off the trail.

Matthew Short, a spokesman for both of the gun rights groups, says that the mock catastrophe — staged on a campus that saw one of the most notorious mass shooting in American history — is intended to protest the idea of "gun-free" zones. The University of Texas faculty has led the charge against campus carry, the new state policy that will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their guns on campus beginning in September 2016.
"We are going to conduct a fake mass shooting. We are going to do it with a really ridiculous cardboard gun so that people can tell it's not a real gun, so that we're not scaring people," Short says. "We're doing this not only at UT because they've had the UT gun-free protest going on. There's a whole group for that. We disagree with that because in mass shootings, 95 percent of the time they take place in a gun-free zone. We're the group that basically started open carry in Texas. Now that we've got that law through, we're working on gun-free zones."

Short and his brother in arms, Murdoch Pizgatti, the president of Don', haven't asked for a permit from the university for their activities, nor will they, Short says. The only place at which his groups have sought a permit to do what they do was the Alamo — which hosted a massive open carry rally in 2013.

UT has not yet commented on Short and Murdoch's plans.

"This is our way to get the word out when the public and the presidential campaigners are saying that 'Americans are bad and they should take our guns.' In the last two years, we've gotten a lot of stuff done politically and loosened the laws here in Texas. We're going to go through with it regardless of what UT says about it," Short says. "We really want the public to know that criminals should be scared of an armed public."

On December 19, a week after the fake shooting, Short and company will be in downtown Dallas, near The Bridge, handing out winter supplies and food to the homeless. The open carry advocates will be, as they usually are, armed.

Update: 5:28 p.m.: Following a statement from the university that demonstrators could face trespassing charges if they held the mock shooting on campus, Pizgatti says that Don' will meet with the school tomorrow to discuss the group's options. He says the protest might move to public land on the outskirts of the university.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young