guns on campus

Texas lawmakers renew guns-on-campus debate

by JIM VERTUNO,  |  published on March 16, 2013

A woman whose unborn child was killed by a sniper nearly five decades ago in one of the deadliest campus shootings in American history urged Texas lawmakers Thursday to reject proposals that would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons into college buildings and classrooms.

Claire Wilson James, now 64, was a freshman at the University of Texas and eight months pregnant in 1966 when Charles Whitman lined up his rifle sights and shot her through the belly as she was walking the campus plaza. She lay on the ground for 90 minutes while Whitman, positioned at the top of the campus tower, killed 17 and wounded 32 before he was killed.

“A campus is a sacred place … very open and vulnerable” that doesn’t need more guns, Wilson James, now an elementary school teacher, said at a hearing at the state Capitol.

She was among dozens of witnesses testifying for and against the campus-carry issue, including several with direct experience with mass shootings at Fort Hood in 2009 and at Virginia Tech University in 2006.

Former Army Sgt. Howard Ray was on Fort Hood when a gunman opened fire near where he was. Ray said the shooter fired several shots in his direction and he couldn’t return fire because Fort Hood policy did not allow him to carry his personal weapon.

“I reached for it, and it wasn’t there,” Ray said. “That day is a clear message to me that our citizens should never be restricted in their ability to carry at home, in a university or any other place.”

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