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Former politician who survived 1991 Texas mass shooting says laws already in place could save lives

Former state Rep. Suzanna Hupp said she believes there are laws that are already in place that could prevent mass shootings.

HOUSTON — A former politician who survived a mass shooting more than 30 years ago has come up with a plan she believes will save lives.

Former state Rep. Suzanna Hupp said laws that are already in place could make it happen.

On Oct. 16, 1991, Hupp and her parents were having lunch at a Luby's in Killeen when a gunman entered and started shooting. Her parents were two of the 23 killed that day.

"Your first thought is: It's a robbery or it's an accident. But the guy was just executing people and it took a good 45 seconds, which is an eternity, to realize this is what he was going to do," Hupp said. "I reached for my purse on the floor next to me thinking I could take him out. But I had left my gun in my car 100 feet away from me -- completely useless because I wanted to obey the law."

Hupp said she narrowly escaped through a window. Now, she wants actual change to happen so these kinds of tragedies never happen again.

"I can't get across to people the frustration and the anger and the feeling of being like a fish in a barrel. You can't go against a bad guy with a gun with a saltshaker," she said.

Hupp, a second amendment advocate, spent the next few years after the Killeen shooting testifying before Texas lawmakers in favor of allowing people to carry concealed weapons. In 1995, she was elected to the state legislature. That was the same year lawmakers passed a bill to allow concealed handgun permit holders to carry openly.

Now, years later and in the wake of school shootings in Santa Fe and Uvalde, the former state representative says more needs to be done.

"One of my big frustrations is that we tell these teachers, 'Look, we trust you with a gun when you are across the street in a grocery store where there might be women pushing infants around the store. But the minute you walk across the street, and you enter your school, even though we know that has become a shooting gallery for mad men, we don't trust you over here,'" she said.

Hupp is proposing a set of changes:

  • Make schools more resitant to attacks by limiting access and installing steel doors
  • Allow teachers who choose to carry to do so on school campuses
  • Create a task force that would come up with a standard protocol for evaluating threat assessments

"It takes a couple of hours, and it is done by a professional and it will catch a lot of these people in advance," Hupp said.

She said she believes the changes could be implemented by the beginning of the upcoming school year. She said she's putting together a proposal and will be meeting with lawmakers to pitch her ideas over the next couple of months.

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