William Perry Pendley

One minute, Suzanne was eating lunch with her mother and father. The next, the happy hubbub of the restaurant was silenced when a pickup truck crashed through the brick, mortar, and glass. How could that happen? The driver emerged, but Suzanne noticed he wasn’t dazed or drunk; he was angry and purposeful. Then, she saw the guns. He stepped over the debris and began to shoot patrons. She must be dreaming. Her father leaped to his feet, charged the gunman, was shot, and fell to the floor. When the gunman turned his back to shoot others, she remembered: she had a gun! Where was it? She had to find her gun! Oh no, it was in her car. She crawled, then ran toward a window to escape, to get her gun, and to return to save her mother. Was it only a nightmare?

Tragically, for Suzanna Gratia Hupp and scores of others, the murder and mayhem on October 16, 1991, at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas—60 miles north of Austin—was real: 23 men and women were murdered in cold blood; another 20 were wounded in the deadliest killing spree in American history. (The killer turned one of his two weapons upon himself when cornered by the police.) Dr. Hupp, a chiropractor, had indeed brought her gun to Luby’s that day; however, it was illegal then to carry a concealed weapon in Texas. Despite the admonition of a friend, “Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6,” she feared losing her license if she violated the law. Instead, she lost both her father and her mother; she had thought her mother would follow her through the window, but her mother had returned to comfort her dying husband and had been murdered. Dr. Hupp blames herself to this day.

As a result, Dr. Hupp became one of the Nation’s leading advocates for concealed carry permits; in fact, at her urging, in 1995 the Texas Legislature adopted a “shall-issue” gun law requiring all qualifying applicants to be issued a Concealed Handgun License. In 1996, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, then traveled the country giving personal testimony why States should enact concealed carry laws. Most recently, she filed a friend of the court brief when the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns for personal safety, District of Columbia v. Heller.

William Perry Pendley

William Perry Pendley is President and Chief Legal Officer at the Mountain States Legal Foundation.

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