Flashback #2: Shooting at UT

49 years ago the sniper shooting at UT starts gun control talks



The University of Texas Tower in downtown Austin. This tower, and the area around it, was the area that Charles Whitman opened fire upon 49 years ago.

Almost 49 years ago a University of Texas student by the name of Charles Whitman opened fire from the UT Tower killing 17 people. It “introduced the nation to the idea of mass murder in a public space,” which prompted President Lyndon Baines Johnson to write a letter directed towards Congress urging for more gun control last Monday, 49 years ago. This event shocked the nation for two reasons. One that a mass killing had almost never occurred in the U.S, and two that it had occurred at a school.

Although this might have been nearly 49 years ago we are still arguing over the issues of gun control that this local Austin event started. All around America there are constantly stories of schools or other public places being the setting for killing sprees. Even here on our campus students have gotten a small taste of what it is like to experience the troubles that guns in a public setting has brought. Last year there was a lockdown for over two hours after a gun on campus was reported.

“I thought it was a joke and then I sort of got scared, especially when the SWAT team came in our room,” sophomore Erlinda Chew said. “They were pointing a gun with a light at us and people started crying.”

It was a false alarm, but the worry and thought of having a gun brought to school to harm people has concerned many. Imagine if someone actually had a gun, much less a semi automatic weapon, which can fire a lot more rounds per second than a single-shot or bolt action handgun, and had wanted to actually harm students.

“I was panicked about if it was real or a prank,” student parent Kathy Gehman said. “I was grateful the school sent out an automatic message to update parents.”

From 1980 to 2012 there have been 297 fatalities from school shootings and over half of  the mass murders committed in the United States involve the killer using semi automatic weapons. According to gun owners that took a poll about gun control, the three reasons they use guns are for target practice, hunting and protection against crime. However, none of these activities needs the use of semi automatic weapons. People do have the right to bear arms as stated in the Second Amendment, and I agree with that, but the use of semi automatic guns are only endangering our society.

Here in the Austin area the issues of gun control made its first case 49 years ago when Charles Whitman opened fire on the UT campus. Gun control has been an issue from then to now and still not a lot of laws preventing the possession of semi automatic weapons have been made. Even if it’s in our small community, we should make a push to have more laws restricting the use of these guns.

“The United States does not have a monopoly of crazy people, and yet we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than anyone else,” President Barack Obama stated. “The difference is that these guys can stack up a bunch of ammunition in their houses, and that’s sort of par for the course.”

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