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Lessons Learned From Dr. Suzanna Hupp

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“A couple of months earlier I had made the stupidest decision of my life.”  Those were Dr. Suzanna Hupp’s words to Congress when speaking about her decision to leave her gun in her car on the day her parents were killed.  26 years after the Luby’s shooting, those words need to be remembered.

The modern media is consistently looking for tragedy.  Stories of massacres by armed men drown out any attention to people who successfully defend themselves with firearms. Cases like those of Suzanne Hupp are even more rare.  She had been a gun owner who chose not to carry.  Her story only made the media because of the mass murder created by one armed man.  But she stood up and spoke out.

The Luby’s Massacre

On October 16, 1991, a man drove his truck into Luby’s restaurant.  He began shooting people at random.  At first it was thought to be a robbery, but the man never asked for money.  Eventually the people in the restaurant realized that the man was not looking for money or valuables, but had come to only to kill people.

People began to hide under tables.  A few were able to escape.  But in the end, George Hennard killed 23 people and wounded 27 others before taking his own life.

The situation was only brought to an end when several police officers heard the screams of people running from the building.  The police officers entered the restaurant and forced the gunman to retreat to the bathroom.  He continued to fire at the police officers and was wounded 4 times by police before taking his own life.

Dr. Suzanna Hupp

Suzanna Hupp was simply enjoying her dinner with her parents when the pickup truck smashed through the window.  The gunman began firing almost immediately.  She and her father threw the table down to hide themselves and potentially stop bullets.  She sat behind the table with her mother and father while the gunman continued to shoot.

Dr. Hupp remembered her firearms training.  As the man reached a point only about 12 feet away from her, she thought, “I’ve got this”.  She reached for her pistol in her purse only to recall that she had stopped carrying it a few months earlier.

As the shooting continued, Dr. Hupp’s father decided he needed to do something.  He attempted to charge the gunman, but took a fatal round to the chest.

Another man decided to throw himself through a window to escape.  This created an opening for Hupp and her mother to flee.  Dr. Hupp pointed out the opening and told her mother it was time to go.  She then fled through the opening in the smashed window.  When she got out, however, she realized that her mother had not come with her.

After celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary, her mother had decided to stay with her father.  She crawled over to her dying husband and cradled him until the gunman returned and shot her.

Dr. Suzanna Hupp’s Congressional Testimony

Things To Remember

Texas has changed and other states can too.

As we look at the laws in Texas today, we tend to think of it as a gun-friendly state.  But that wasn’t always the case.  As Dr. Hupp pointed out in her testimony, it could be a felony offense to carry a concealed firearm in Texas.  This was the reason she chose to store her pistol in her car.  It was the reason she couldn’t protect her family.

Dr. Hupp later became Representative Hupp.  Elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, just five short years after the incident, she became a leading advocate for concealed carry programs.  She later wrote a book, “From Luby’s to the Legislature: One Woman’s Fight Against Gun Control“.

Massacres are rare, but very real.

There seems to be a new massacre somewhere in America every couple of months.  The news struggles to make each more incredible than the last.  Despite this, it can be easy to think that it only happens in Orlando, or in Killeen, or anywhere but where you are.  But the truth is that those people didn’t think it could happen there either.

These criminals look for places with unsuspecting victims.  The gunman in the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora drove out of his way to reach a movie theater that didn’t allow concealed carry.  He had multiple movie theaters closer to his home, even bigger ones, where he could have committed his murders.  These criminals specifically target areas where they will be able to hurt the most people before a response.

Movement Saves Lives

As Jason Hanson points out in his book, “movement saves lives.”  He thinks this is important enough to put it in the first chapter, and I agree.  Sitting in a restaurant, the diners were easy targets.  Dr. Suzanna Hupp and her father initially moved by placing an obstacle between the gunman and themselves.  While they didn’t move themselves at this point, it was the kind of movement that bought her time to wait for an opening.

She later moved through the broken window.  If she had stayed with her mother, she would surely have been killed as well.  Those who took action to move out of the kill zone when the opportunity appeared lived to tell the rest of us about the importance of being prepared and how real the threats are.

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