At his press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott wanted the public to know that Texas has allowed 18-year-olds to buy rifles for 60 years. What he conveniently left out was that only four years later (on August 1, 1966) was when the nation's first school shooting took place -- at the University of Texas. And with a rifle. Far more than that, it was a high-powered, semi-automatic weapon and overloaded with ammunition. There were 14 people killed. And 47 casualties overall.
To be clear, there may be no direct cause-and-effect between the then-new Texas law and shooting -- or was -- but it was a Really Horrible Example for Abbott to use.
Further, not totally dissimilar from this week's school shooting, the murderer Charles Whitman killed his mother and wife the night before he headed to the tower on the college campus for his killing spree.
An acclaimed 1975 TV movie was made about the ghastly tragedy with Kurt Russell, called The Deadly Tower. It also starred Ned Beatty, John Forsythe and Pernell Roberts. And the actor Richard Yniquez played the heroic Hispanic police officer who is able to end the rampage. The film is gripping -- methodical, underplayed and wonderfully done. From the taut build-up until the attack begins through the long and horrifying shooting. Highly recommended. It's available for streaming on Amazon Prime here for $3.99.
You can read more about it on its iMDB page.
Here's a five-minute clip. It's just a movie, not news footage, but it's fact-based, understated, showing what happened during that heart-sickening gun massacre, four years after Gov. Abbott proudly pointed to the then-new Texas law opening up the purchase of rifles.
There are a few odd, jump-edits by the person who posted this, but overall it's straightforward from the film. One note: at one point, we see a young woman on the phone, but it cuts away mid-sentence. That's the wife of the police officer who eventually makes it into the tower.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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