AUSTIN – Pro-gun demonstrators staging a mock mass shooting near the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday were overwhelmed in number and ferocity by a large group of counter-protesters wielding dildos and machines that generated fart sounds.
“This isn’t about guns necessarily. This is about scaring our community. This is about a choice between fear and a little bit of good humor,” Andrew Dobbs, a UT alumnus who organized the “mass farting” counter-protest told the crowd. “We are in a scary time right now and lots of scary things are happening, and some people want us to be more afraid.”
The group of around 100 counter protesters shouted “Texas farts!” and “We fart in your general direction” as they marched down Guadalupe Street in Austin to meet members of Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com who were staging the mock shooting across the street from the All Saints’ Episcopal Church.
By the time the “mass farting” got there, however, the mock mass shooting was already over. The two groups had already held what they called their “theatrical performance” mimicking a mass shooting with cardboard guns and fake blood.
This is what the pro-gun demonstrators wanted, organizer Murdoch Pizgatti said, to show that a shooting can take place in a matter or seconds or minute while people are distracted by “their emotions.”
“On the other side of campus, the mock mass shooting happened. You don’t get a time and place, you don’t get a flier or an invitation for a true mass shooting. They happen unannounced,” said Pizgatti. “And the response time for the police to get over here was well after the event took place. That also illustrates the point of these gun-free zones. You must protest yourself. You must be armed.”
Earlier Saturday, the groups held an open carry march near the area. It’s legal to openly carry a long arm like a rifle in Texas. Come Jan. 1, it will be legal for licensed gun owners to openly carry their handguns, and concealed carry will be allowed in most buildings on public college campuses beginning August 2016.
Open carry of any deadly weapons will remain illegal at all institutions of higher learning, however, and K-12 schools, hospitals and several other locations across the state will continue to be designated gun-free zones after the new laws go into effect.
Pizgatti, who was openly carrying a handgun Saturday, repeatedly cited a law passed in 2013 that protects those who “accidentally” expose their concealed gun. “Whoops!” he said, laughing.
The mock mass shooting, which he billed as a protest meant to reveal the dangers of gun-free zones, quickly went viral after being announced on Facebook last week. The response from the UT community and other Austinites was swift and humorous.
Both protests claimed to win the day with the farters saying they effectively neutralized the impact of the mock shooting, and the pro-gun activists saying the counter-protesters made fools of themselves.
As both demonstrations died down, clergy and volunteers from All Saints’ came out with buckets of soapy water to scrub the chalk outlines and fake blood left after the mock mass shooting. Dobbs rallied his troops once more, thanking them for their good humor.
“A bunch of people with fart guns scared these guys,” said Dobbs. “It’s time for us to stand up for good sense, for good humor and believe it or not, for a crowd with dildos and fart guns, a little bit of good taste.”