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The Brief: The UT Tower Shooting and "Good Guys With Guns"

The Tribune's Mattthew Watkins takes an in-depth look at a daring decision made by an armed civilian on that day nearly 50 years ago and its implications for his life and on today's campus carry debate.

The UT Tower in Austin, Texas.

The Big Conversation

Next Monday, Aug. 1, marks the 50th anniversary of the mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin that left more than a dozen people dead in 1966. It’s also the day that Texas’ controversial campus carry law goes into effect at public colleges statewide.

The Tribune is reporting several stories to look at the legacy of the UT Tower Shooting and the role of guns on campus more broadly. Today, Matthew Watkins profiles Allen Crum, an armed civilian who assisted the police in their efforts to stop shooter Charles Whitman 50 years ago.

Watkins writes that the efforts of Crum and other civilians to help police in 1966 was in essence what gun rights activists would yearn for decades later whenever a new mass shooting shocked the nation — multiple 'good guys with guns' trying to end the violence.

“But the story of Crum, then a 40-year-old floor manager at a nearby bookstore, and the other vigilantes is complicated,” writes Watkins, who spoke at length with Crum’s son, among others who remember the rampage and its impact, for the story. “On the day of the shooting, many of the armed men were reckless and unorganized. At times, they put police in danger.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

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Judge Orders Voter ID Fix for Texas House Runoff, by Jim Malewitz — Voters in Bexar County will be the first to cast their ballots under relaxed rules after a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ strict voter identification law discriminated against minority voters.

Texas Cemetery Scraps "Whites Only" Policy, by Alexa Ura — After drawing ire for its alleged “whites only” policy, a Texas cemetery has admitted its refusal to bury Latino residents is discriminatory and violates federal and state law.

Texas Women Go After Trump on Night One, by Abby Livingston — A succession of Texas women took the Democratic National Committee Convention stage Monday night, and threw some of the sharpest daggers of the night at Republican nominee Donald Trump.

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Quote to Note

“I'm from a small town in South Texas. And if you know your history, Texas used to be part of Mexico. Now, I'm ninth generation American. My family never crossed a border. The border crossed us.” 

Eva Longoria, an actress and Corpus Christi native, addressing the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Today in TribTalk

Fostering civil discourse after Dallas attack, by Patricia Arvanitis — The racial disparities in our education system, in our housing system, in our mental health system and in our justice system are not something we can ignore or sit on the sidelines and hope they will go away.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   Life on the Border: Rhetoric or Reality? on Aug. 4 at The Centennial Club in McAllen

•   The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

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