Dr. Suzanna Gratia's testimony March 1992

March 4, 1992

Transcribed by Chuck Wittig, President, Western Missouri Shooters Alliance

The following is a transcript of the testimony of Dr. Gratia in favor of Missouri's HB-1720, a bill that would allow citizens of Missouri to obtain a permit to carry a firearm concealed on or about their person. It was transcribed from a very poor tape recording. Please forgive any problems that were encountered in the transcription that are due to the poor quality of the recording.

"Sitting back there listening to this, I've gotta tell you that it just amazes me. My father was an expert in the founding of our country, and knowing what I know about the Bill of Rights, - it just - it just - friggin' amazes me that this even up for discussion! Enough said about that. OK."

"I grew up in a house with no guns, my father was not 'Bubba Hunter' uh - in fact he gave up fishing because he didn't like to clean fish - OK - When I grew up and moved out on my own I was given a gun by a friend, for self protection, - I was taught how to use it and knew how to use it correctly, and I carried it my purse. I lived in the country by myself - OK - "

"Somewhere along the line I made one of my stupidest decisions- I was afraid that - if - somebody caught me with the gun in my purse, I could lose my license to practice, lose my ability to make a living. So I took the gun out of my purse and I left it in my car - which the laws in my state are kinda wishy- washy on - and I thought, 'Heck, if I needed it, it's probably going to be when I'm out on the road - in the middle of nowhere and, you know, my car's broke down or something - "

"Everybody in here knows, I think, what happened in Luby's - but, in a nutshell - uh - ya know, we all think - and I know you do - (indicating a committee member), we all think that crime happens when you're walking down a dark alley- I've never been involved in any crimes - that's never happened in my life - I was with my parents - AT NOON, on a bright sunny day, in Luby's, with a hundred and forty other people, OK. In a town that's not a high crime town."

"This guy - . drives through the window - . and starts shooting - This guy has got no history - nothing." "Well, my father and I immediatly put the table up in front of us and we all got down behind it, and I - ya know your first opinion is - is this guy robbing this place - what's the deal - what's - what's going on, and then you're realizing that all he's doing is simply shooting people."

"As he was working his way toward us, I reached for my purse, thinking - Hah! - I've got this son of a gun - OK? Now, understand, I know what a lot of people think, - they think, - 'Oh, my God, then you would have had a gunfight and then more people would have been killed.' Unhunh, no, - I was down on the floor - this guy is standing up - everybody else is down on the floor - I had a perfect shot at him - it would have been clear, I had a place to prop my hand - the guy was not even aware of what we were doing - I'm not saying that I could have saved anybody in there, but I would have had a chance - that's all I'm saying is that I would have had a chance - " "My gun wasn't even in my purse - it was a hundred feet away in my car!"

"My father was saying, 'I gotta do something!, I gotta do something! This guy's going to kill everyone in here!' So I wasn't able to hold him down and when my father thought he had a chance - he went at the guy! The guy turned, shot him in the chest and my dad went down."

"Shortly - it made the guy change directions and he went off to my left. Shortly after that somebody broke out a window in back and I saw a chance to get out - I grabbed my mother and tried to get her up - hoped she was following me - and I grew wings on my feet. As it turned out, my mother crawled over to my father and stayed with him - and this - I'm trying to think of a civil word to use - this person - uh - eventually came around and shot her also - OK"

"Let me make a point here, in case this isn't becoming extremely clear. My state has gun control laws. It did not keep Hennard from coming in and killing everybody! What it did do, was keep me from protecting my family! That's the only thing that cotton pickin' law did! OK! Understand that! That's - that's so important!"

"Am I allowed to use a little theatrics - May I stand up?" Chairman replies "Go right ahead".

"Nobody thinks about this, but just imagine this, because I thought of this, I think about this occasionally now, I'm not a paranoid person, - I still live in the country, I - go about my business and have fun. But this has, needless to say, become an issue for me."

"There is zero - there is no security out there to speak of at all. It's a bright sunny day out there - now - what if one of those guys out there (indicating the hearing room entryway) walked in here with a pistol - an automatic - and he started blasting. Well there's only a couple of doors and let me tell you, you can't get out that door that quick before he can mow down a lot of people. Now what if he walks over here (toward a committe member) and he's got that gun pointed right at you? Don't you hope that that lady right there, (pointing to another committee member) has a revolver in her purse and knows how to use it and@%$&# (unintelligible)? Committeeman replies "No." "You don't hope that? You'd rather be dropped dead?" Committeeman, "If she tries to shoot him, someone on the other side of me would be hit"

Conversation that follows is a distinctive "I would" from the audience among many other voices until the Chairman announces "Excuse me, Ma'am, your point has been made," interrupted by an "I agree with you!" from the audience.

Dr. Gratia, "That's basically it, let me, - let me make one last - uh - little bit - OK - let's forget that scenario - You have a twenty- one year old daughter - this will the last little thing I want to say - she drives to college everyday on backroads - we have a lot of those in Texas, I'm sure you have quite a few here - she has some car trouble - and it's on one of those roads where somebody drives by every five minutes - she is at the mercy of whoever happens to drive by next! OK - now - 'Bubba' drives up behind her - I hope nobody in here is named 'Bubba' - drives up behind her in a pick- up truck - and he gets out with a baseball bat - a big old knife in his pocket - gets out with a baseball bat and starts bashing her windshield in. Now - your twenty- one year old daughter is your only daughter. Would you like for her to have a gun in her car? That's all I have to say - do you have any questions?"

Note:  Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp subsequently became a member of the Texas legislature.  She was instrumental in the passing of the concealed handgun license [CHL] law in Texas and later relaxation of restrictions in that law.  We are indebted to her dedication to the cause. [Sep 2003]