Reporter Blames 'Escalation of the Epidemic of Gun Violence' on Survivor of Mass Shooting

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

I've seen a lot of bad takes when it comes to our right to keep and bear arms over the years, but the latest column by Honolulu Civil Beat editor-at-large Naka Nathaniel may actually have topped them all. 


Nathaniel's column is all about the supposed importance of keeping "gun culture" from taking root in Hawaii, so it's not like he's hiding his animosity towards gun ownership. Still, I was legitimately stunned when I read his opening anecdote, where he blames the victim of a mass shooting for "the moment that may have started the escalation of the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued the United States."

It was 1995 and a Texas Senate committee was hearing testimony from a survivor of a mass shooting at a cafeteria. The survivor, Suzanna Hupp, told the committee how the gunman interrupted the lunch she was having with her parents. When the shooting started she reached into her purse and prepared to return fire. 

However, when she went to grab her handgun, it wasn’t in her purse. It was in her car, because Texas state laws prevented her from bringing her weapon into the cafeteria. 

During her testimony, Hupp said that it was like watching fish being shot in a barrel. At one point she made her hand into the shape of a gun and pointed it at the legislators. It was a very effective piece of political theater and the country has suffered ever since. 

Political theater? Hupp watched her parents be murdered, along with 22 others, in the shooting at the Luby's in Killeen, Texas. Twenty others were wounded in the attack, which was carried out by a 35-year-old who drove his truck through the front window of the cafeteria and opened fire with two pistols. She wanted to fight back, but because she tried to be a law-abiding citizen she'd left her gun locked up in her car, so she and others were forced to wait for police to arrive before the killing stopped. 


Nathaniel doesn't dispute any of that, but he still firmly believes that we'd all be better off if we're disarmed by the law as Hupp was that day. 

Here in the United States, what Texas started 30 years ago has continued with Tennessee just approving legislation that permits teachers to arm themselves in the classroom. This is where progress has brought us. 

Thankfully, we live in Hawaii, a place that remains a staunch outlier when it comes to gun laws, and more importantly, gun culture.

How's that working out? As the Honolulu Civil Beat reported back in January:

Gun violence is on the decline nationwide but that trend might surprise residents of Hawaii.

December alone saw six shooting deaths in the state including a murder-suicide, and New Year’s Day brought three fatalities including a fatal shooting by police and the second murder-suicide linked to intimate partner violence in as many weeks.

That spate of violence meant the state ended the year with a fatal firearms injury toll close to the highest point in the past 10 years.

And in March, Honolulu TV station KHON reported there had been 11 murders in the city so far this year, on pace to shatter 2023's total of 23. Honolulu, and Hawaii more generally, is not immune from "gun violence", despite the decades of hostility towards the right to keep and bear arms. Is that okay with Nathaniel, so long as no armed citizens were able to fight back? 


I've got news for the editor-at-large: the days of the state government routinely violating the Second Amendment rights of residents without repercussions are over. Hawaii is now a "shall issue" state, and though there is a LOT of work to be done to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms can be exercised without infringement, we're making progress. The state Attorney General reported a 7.6% increase in the number of firearm registrations last year (a law that is itself abhorrent to the Constitution), continuing a trend that's been going on for several decades. 

Officials noted that firearm registration activity has dramatically increased over the course of the 24 years in which data has been collected and reported.

“From 2000 through 2023, the number of statewide permit applications processed annually increased by 262.6%, the number of firearms annually registered leapt by 280.5%, and the number of firearms annually imported climbed 263.4%,” according to the report.

Despite Nathaniel's contention, there is a culture of lawful gun ownership in Hawaii that has resisted the state's best attempts to kill it off. It's still extraordinarily difficult to exercise your Second Amendment rights in the islands, but thanks to the work of gun owners, 2A organizations, and attorneys like Alan Beck, we're slowly clawing back those rights that have been denied for so long. In fact, I firmly believe that even non-residents who possess a concealed carry license will be able to bear arms in self-defense in the not-too-distant future. Nathaniel may be committed to massive resistance to the Heller and Bruen decisions, but he can't stop the progress that gun owners and Second Amendment advocates have made so that none of us are ever in the same helpless position that Suzanna Gratia Hupp found herself on that awful day in Killeen. 


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