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Texas Gun Law Fuels Debate on Anniversary of UT Tower Massacre

Image: Texas Gun Law Fuels Debate on Anniversary of UT Tower Massacre
(Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 01 Aug 2016 12:03 PM

A Texas law allowing the concealed carry of firearms on college campuses goes into effect Monday, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of University of Texas' clock tower massacre in which graduate student Charles Whitman shot to death 14 passersby and wounded 32.

The symbolism of the date has added extra fuel to an already heated argument on the subject, The Washington Times reports.

Although many states have rejected similar proposals, Texas becomes the ninth one to enact the legislation, which allows students who are at least 21 years old with concealed handgun permits to bring their weapons on campus and into classrooms.

A memorial is to be dedicated on Monday at the university to remember the victims of the mass shooting.

Whitman was eventually shot dead at point blank range by two policemen who managed to evade his sniper fire and climbed to the top of the tower.

But as the sniping started and police had not yet arrived or were just getting organized, students on campus who ran to get their hunting rifles and other weapons that were in their dorm rooms or cars that managed to fire back at Whitman are widely credited with limiting the scale of the massacre, according to the Times.

Police reporting to the scene had less firepower than the civilians.

The memory of this impromptu cavalry is used by gun rights advocates to argue that armed citizens are the best defense against mass shootings.

But gun control supporters say such arguments do not hold water and point to research that shows that armed civilian involvement in stopping shootings does not usually help.

An expert in the field, Texas State University's Pete Blair, said that civilians shooting back at a sniper today might cause more harm than good, because police could mistake them for an active shooter during these highly stressed situations.

Others have already taken action over the legislation, as three University of Texas professors have sued the state over the issue, The Texas Tribune reports.

They contend that "Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom."

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A Texas law allowing the concealed carry of firearms on college campuses goes into effect Monday, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of University of Texas' clock tower massacre in which graduate student Charles Whitman shot to death 14 passersby and wounded 32.
texas, conceal carry, anniversary, university of texas, massacre
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2016-03-01
Monday, 01 Aug 2016 12:03 PM
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