Washington museum to display UT Tower sniper Charles Whitman’s rifle


A Washington, D.C., museum says it will display the rifle that sniper Charles Whitman used to kill 14 people and wound 31 others from atop the University of Texas 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 Friday.

The museum acquired the gun recently from a private collector, spokeswoman Kira Bates said.

The crime was among those that led to the creation of special police tactical units, the museum noted. 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.

But some victims and a UT 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 said to The Dallas Morning News. James, now a retired schoolteacher in Texarkana, was 18 and eight months pregnant when Whitman shot her in the stomach, killing her fetus.

In an email, UT spokesman Gary Susswein said, “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.”


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