How A Gun Could Have Saved My Parents’ Lives

A Daughter’s Regret: How A Gun Could Have Saved My Parents’ Lives

State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp

Texas state Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp is recognized worldwide as one of the leading advocates for an individual’s right to carry a concealed firearm. Several years ago, while testifying in opposition to additional gun control legislation, she related the emotional account of how she lost both of her parents to a lone gunman in 1991. At the time of the attack, Texas did not allow private citizens to carry concealed.


Let me make sure that you understand. I’m not here representing the NRA. I’m not even a member, OK? Secondly, I’d like to say, that in your opening statements, you commented specifically on my testimony saying that basically it had nothing to do with this issue and I had to chuckle because then I noticed he had Mr. Brady up here who was hit, not with an assault weapon, but with a .22 caliber revolver.

So, getting beyond that, I didn’t grow up in a house with guns. I don’t hunt. I personally abhor hunting, but I was given a gun by a friend when I was 21, to carry in my purse for self-defense. And I was taught how to use it.

A couple of years ago, my parents and I went to a cafeteria in Texas on a bright sunny day. We weren’t in a dark ally where we weren’t supposed to be. And as you all know the story, this madman drove his truck through the window and he began shooting. Well, immediately my father and I got down on the floor and put the table up in front of us. And this guy kept shooting.

And you’re thinking, “Well, you know, what could it be? Is it a robbery?” That’s the first thing that generally comes to mind. And he keeps shooting. It took me a good forty-five seconds to realize that this man wasn’t there to commit a robbery. He wasn’t there for a hit. He was there to simply shoot as many people as he possibly could.

Now I’d like to make something clear. I hear all this talk about how many bullets can go in a clip. I’ve been there. I can tell you it doesn’t matter. It takes one second to switch out a clip. You can have one bullet or a hundred bullets. It doesn’t matter, guys. I’ve been there. He goes, “thump, thump.” Just like that. That’s not enough time to rush a man; I promise you.

When I finally realized what was occurring I thought, “I got him!” And I reached for my purse. He was maybe twelve feet away. You know, is it possible my gun could have jammed? Sure. Is it possible I could have missed? Sure. But I can tell you I’ve hit much smaller targets at much greater distances.

But then I realized that a couple of months earlier I had made the stupidest decision of my life. I took my gun out of my purse and left it in my car. Because as you well know, in the state of Texas, it’s sometimes a felony offense to carry a gun in your purse.

I can tell you that I’m not mad at the guy that did this. As he continued, it was obvious that he was a madman. My father, at that point, said, “I’m going to . . . I’ve just got to do something! I’ve got to do something! He’s going to kill everybody in here!” And he rushed the man. No way.

This guy turned and shot him in the chest. He went down; [he] was obviously mortally wounded. For whatever reason, that made the man change directions and go off to my left. Shortly thereafter someone at the back of the restaurant broke out a window.

When I saw what looked like an opportunity to escape, I turned around and I grabbed my mother by the shirt and I said, “Come on! Come on! We’ve got to run! We’ve got to get out of here!” And then my feet grew wings and I was out the back window. As soon as I got out, I realized that my mother had not followed me out.

And as I learned from the police officers she had crawled over to where my father was and cradled him until the guy got back around to her, put the gun to her head, she looked up at him, put her head down and he pulled the trigger. My parents had just had their forty-seventh wedding anniversary. She wasn’t going anywhere.

As I mentioned, I’m not really mad at the guy that did this and I’m certainly not mad at the guns that did this. They didn’t walk in there by themselves and pull their own triggers. The guy that did it was a lunatic. That’s like being mad at a rabid dog.

I’m mad at my legislators for legislating me out of the right to protect myself and my family. I would much rather be sitting in jail with a felony offense on my head and have my parents alive.

As far as these so-called assault weapons, you say that they don’t have any defense use. You tell that to the guy that I saw on a videotape of the L.A. riots, standing up on his rooftop protecting his property and his life from an entire mob with one of these so-called assault weapons. Tell me that he didn’t have a legitimate self-defense use.

Just one final statement, I’ve been sitting here getting more and more fed up with all of this talk about these pieces of machinery having no legitimate sporting purpose; no legitimate hunting purpose. People, that is not the point of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting. And I know I’m not going to make very many friends saying this, but it’s about all rights, all of our rights to be able to protect ourselves from all of you guys up there.