Gun control, Second Amendment turn into national, local debate
In the wake of the recent wave of mass shootings, heated arguments and new proposed firearms legislation are breeding controversy that has Americans fired up.
This time of grief conjures up memories of a horrific scene that unfolded more than two decades ago only a few miles from UMHB’s campus.
For many people outside of Texas, the event that turned a Luby’s Cafeteria into a war zone put Killeen on the national map and was a catalyst for allowing concealed carry of firearms in Texas and other states.
On Oct. 16, 1991, George Hennard of Belton drove his truck through a window of the restaurant, exited the vehicle and began shooting with a Glock 17 pistol. When the gunfire ceased, 23 people were dead and 27 injured. He apparently turned his gun on himself in the restaurant’s bathroom.
Pastor Jimmy Towers of Killeen’s Lifeway Fellowship Church was nearby.
“I was actually in the parking lot when people were breaking out of the back window of Luby’s to escape. I’d been speaking at a hotel next door. I was on my way to conduct a funeral, so I didn’t even realize what all had happened,”
The attack was distinguished as the most deadly of its kind in U.S. history until the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007.
Much like the recent shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., the infamous cafeteria mass murder caused Americans to unite and rethink firearm policies.
Although the Central Texas community was dealt a tough blow, from the tragedy arose an effective gun rights advocate.
Towers said, “Some of the people became very proactive after the event like Suzanna Gratia Hupp from Cove, the chiropractor who was one of the primary people for passing legislation for concealed handguns in Texas.”
Hupp was dining with her mother and father when shots rang out in 1991. She had left her pistol in her vehicle, not wanting to lose her chiropractor’s license for carrying a gun into a weapon-free zone.
Surviving the rampage, she was able to crawl through a shattered window, and ran to retrieve her gun. She returned to find both of her parents among the fatally wounded.
Hupp embarked on a mission to reform gun laws in the Texas legislature, where she served from 1996 to 2002.
Even though Hupp is no longer in the legislature, she remains politically active and is scheduled to testify on gun control today in Washington.
Hupp shares an opinion with many others who believe new proposed government regulations will infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
“I think it’s incredibly hypocritical of Biden and Obama, when you see them and their families walking along and every person around them is an armed security Secret Service man,” she said.
Also frustrating to Hupp is misunderstanding on the part of some legislators concerning the classification of weapons. There has been much deliberation about banning assault weapons.
Hupp said assault weapons were banned in the 1930s, and believes this unfamiliarity with guns is clouding Washington lawmakers’ judgment.
“The problem I have with some of these laws is that they are not based on anything logical,” she said. “They’re scaring people because of how a gun looks, not because of how it shoots. Because there’s no logic to that, they are going after guns that shoot exactly the way my guns shoot, and because of that, I know they are going after whatever guns they can get.”
The argument for reducing the size of magazines also holds no water with Hupp.
“They have deliberately misled people to believe that limiting the number of bullets you can put in a magazine will miraculously save lives,” she said.
Those who accept Hupp’s viewpoint and oppose further regulation will generally contend that smaller clips put people defending themselves at a time disadvantage against a criminal who has no regard for gun laws.
Although Hupp was instrumental in shaping the Texas concealed carry law, she favors what she calls a “Vermont style” policy.
In that state, a citizen who is cleared to buy a gun is cleared to carry it. She believes she should be able to carry something that she’s purchased.
A UMHB student has a thought to add to the debate. Leah White, a freshman Christian studies major and native of the Austin area, does not like the public having easy access to firearms.
“I think guns should have more regulation,” she said. “Why? Because humans are inherently evil. As much confidence as we might have in ourselves or others, we know we are quite often unpredictable. Liberality of guns doesn’t seem like the wisest call to make.”
Americans who oppose Hupp’s view share similar ideas to White. They reason that limiting the use of guns to the populace will lessen the chances of more mass shootings in the future.
One piece of legislation that Hupp pushed would have allowed teachers to carry weapons to protect their students and co-workers at school.
Larry Arnold of Kerrville has written books and articles on guns and gun control. He also has military experience and is a National Rifle Association pistol and rifle instructor.
Arnold is in favor of such a proposal and says it’s already been successful.
“It seems to be working everywhere it’s being tried. The Texas schools allowing teacher carry haven’t had any problems, or any school shootings. Neither have the schools in Utah, where any concealed carry licensee can carry into schools,” he said.
He offers evidence that he believes shows this kind of policy is safe.
“At Sandy Hook there was a teacher who gathered 15 first-graders, stacked them in a tiny bathroom, locked the door, kept the kids quiet while the killer roamed outside, then properly demanded the police ID themselves when they arrived,” he said. “Anyone with that much grace under pressure can responsibly handle a pistol.”
President Barack Obama is expected by many to address gun control in tonight’s State of the Union message.