DC museum to display Texas tower sniper's rifle
Dec. 13, 2014
DALLAS (AP) — A Washington, D.C., museum announced Friday that it will display the rifle that sniper Charles Whitman used to kill 16 people and wound 32 others from atop the University of Texas clock tower in 1966.
The Crime Museum will display the 6 mm Remington Model 700 rifle, still bearing Whitman's handwritten scope sightings on a piece of tape, the museum said in a statement.
The museum acquired the gun recently from a private collector, said spokeswoman Kira Bates. She said she had no other details.
The crime was among those that led to the creation of special police tactical units, the statement said. Also, the ease with which Whitman purchased his weapons prompted Congress to pass the Gun Control Act of 1968, which requires the licensing of firearms dealers, said Janine Vaccarello, the museum's chief operating officer.
"With the University of Texas shooting being the first of its kind, we wanted to pay tribute to all the victims who lost their lives that day, while also recognizing all the police officers who continue to risk their lives on a daily basis," Vaccarello said in the museum statement.
But some victims and a university official questioned the taste of the exhibit.
"What kind of person wants to go and look at it? Why does somebody want to go look at something that did so much evil?" Claire Wilson James asked The Dallas Morning News. James, now a retired schoolteacher in Texarkana, Texas, was 18 and eight months pregnant when she was wounded in the stomach, killing her unborn child.
In an email to The Associated Press, University of Texas spokesman Gary Susswein said the school shared James' concern.
"The University of Texas community was forever scarred by the 1966 shootings. We strongly hope that these events are not glorified in any way and that the memories of the victims are always honored," Susswein said.