UT tower victim testifies before legislature about armed teacher - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

UT tower victim testifies before legislature about armed teachers

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The State Capitol was a busy place today with representatives listening to several groups debating gun control and guns on school campuses. 

Clair Wilson James was asked to go before the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Thursday. She's been in the classroom and in-front of a bullet meant to kill her.

"My mission was to just help people pause in their rush toward more guns," said James. "If the children are aware of a gun that some person on campus the going to be not thinking about school."

Life experience put James before the Texas legislature.

"I certainly understand parent's fears after there have been so many incidents" James said.

James is a victim of one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history.

"There was construction going on that day it was like a jackhammer that I heard and thought I stepped on an electric cord because I felt this huge jolt," she said.

In 1966, Charles Whitman turned the UT campus into is personal killing zone. His first target firing from the UT tower was 19-year-old Claire Wilson, who was 8-months pregnant at the time. Her baby and boyfriend were killed but she lived to tell about.

"We now have SWAT teams we have much better trained police force that is intelligent and continues to be taught about these situations," James said.

James recently retired after 30 years as a teacher. That's why she is in Austin to voice her concerns to lawmakers about guns in the classroom.

"Most of us are trained for that and in fact to me that would compromise the kind of mind I want to have as I'm teaching kids because they're so impressionable," James said.

That hot August day almost 47 years ago changed her life. It changed her point of view on many things that involve education. Thursday, she had 3-minutes to persuade lawmakers to keep firearms out of teachers hands in the classroom.

"I respect the people who were so fervent for their rights but I just think there needs to be conversation focused on something else like why this is happening and what we can do to help keep people from being killers," said James.

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