When 22 people were gunned down in a Texas cafeteria eight years ago it was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, a distinction CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather reports some feel could have been avoided - with looser gun laws.
Time has passed since George Hennard opened fire on patrons luching at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, but for many that day of dread is frozen in memory. A survivor in every sense of the word, Suzanna Gratia Hupp had the killer clear in her sights.
"I thought, I've got him!" Hupp says with a snap of her fingers. "And I reached for my purse on the floor next to me, where I've kept my gun for years, and realized my gun was 100 yards away in my car."
She didn't have the gun because at the time it was illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Texas. That's why everyone in Luby's was unarmed. Everyone except for the murderer.
"I cannot begin to get across to you what it is like to wait for it to be your turn," she says.
Suzanna's father, Al Gratia, wasn't able to withstand the anticipation; he was shot in the chest trying to intercept the gunman.
When someone smashed out a window, Suzanna told her mother to come with her and run for their lives. But after 47 years of marriage, Suzy Gratia would not leave her husband's side.
Hupp says she's been told her mother, "looked up at him. He put the gun to her head, she put her head down and he pulled the trigger."
Now in her second term in the Texas Legislature, grief galvanized Suzanna Hupp's views on handguns, propelling her into public life. On the question of having a gun, to her there is no question.
"Basically if you can vote, yeah, I think you ought to be able to keep and carry," she says. Long guns or handguns, it's all the same to her.
"People who are basically law abiding people are going to be law abiding whether they have one gun or 60 guns," she says. "It doesn't matter."
Chief Ronald Neubauer has a problem with that view. Neubauer is President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, an organization of more than 17,000 police executives, and also heads the St. Peters, Mo., police force.
"The possession of a gun does not make our society safer by any means," he says. "If gun possession were a clear indicator that the society that you're in is safe, we would live in the safest society in the world. As it is, we live in the most violent."
Hupp thinks there will always be "bad guys," and Neubauer says there's no way to entirely eliminate violence form society. But while Hupp wants the right to be ready to protect herself with a gun, Neubauer says that's not the answer.
Neubauer does not oppose responsible people keeping weapons secured in the privacy of their homes, but he is adamantly opposed to people packing on the streets.
"A thousand people die each year as a result of firearms," he says. "Why can't we do something o fight this public health problem?"
But Hupp says, "it just seems so incredibly black and white to me."
Neubauer's feelings are just as clear. "People are out there carrying guns and don't know what they re doing with them," he says.
Suzanna Hupp's views go beyond what she says could have been prevented that day in the cafeteria. She thinks she could have saved her parents, and says "I will also tell you one thing that no one can argue with - it sure would have changed the odds, wouldn't it?"
Four years after the Luby's Cafeteria massacre, it became legal to carried a concealed weapon in Texas; 28 other states currently have similar laws.
| Armed America|
Starting July 13. Click headlines for previews.
|T U E S D A Y The Costs of Accidents: More Than Money|
|W E D N E S D A Y Guns As A Way Of Life|
|T H U R S D A Y Victims: The Skyrocketing Price Of Care|
|F R I D A Y Concealed Weapons: Deterrent To Violence?|
|M O N D A Y What's In The Second Amendment?|
|I N T E R A C T I V E Arm Yourself With The Facts|