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.
One of the states that enacted the law advocated by Dr. Hupp was Colorado, which, in 2003 created statewide standards for issuing concealed carry permits, adopted a narrow list of exclusions—locations prohibited by federal law; K-12 schools; public buildings with metal detectors; and private property—and prohibited local governments from enforcing any contradictory laws and policies. Despite the Colorado General Assembly’s intent to supplant local rules as to concealed carry, the Regents of the University of Colorado refused to withdraw their 1994 policy barring concealed carry on CU’s campuses throughout the State.
The massacre that killed Dr. Hupp’s parents was the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, that is, it was until the Virginia Tech Massacre of April 17, 2007, when 32 were killed and 17 wounded. Subsequently, on February 14, 2008, a gunman killed 6 and wounded 18 at Northern Illinois University. Little wonder, therefore, that students on CU’s campuses in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs—who have a license to carry concealed weapons almost anywhere else in Colorado—wish to exercise that right in what, in their view, is one of the most dangerous settings they will encounter: “a gun-free zone.”
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), a national advocacy group with over 30,000 members that supports the legalization of concealed carry by licensed individuals on college campuses, agrees. Last month, SCCC, two CU students and a recent CU graduate filed a lawsuit in Colorado state court seeking a ruling that CU’s policy is illegal and unconstitutional!