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A Message from a Survivor: Start Taking Our Lives Seriously

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Guns rights come with responsibilities.

On March 26, 2017, a young lady I know was sleeping at her ex-fiance’s house in the living room when a fight broke out somewhere outside.

She woke up to gun shots erupting around her. She and her ex-fiance both laid on the floor as bullets flew over their heads. When she tried to get up to check on him, she ended up getting shot.

The adrenaline in her body caused her to go into immediate shock before she even realized what had just happened. She woke up four hours later in the hospital with her family surrounding her. Only then did she know what was going on.

In a moment when all hope seemed gone, doctors made it clear that the young lady would not live.

If she did survive, they said, she’d be paralyzed and not be able to ever walk again.

That young woman is me. Not only am I here, walking and talking, I’m a student leader at Texas Southern University. From serving as Miss NAACP in 2018 to being president of the NAACP 6864 chapter this year, I want to use my platform to make a point about gun violence.

I don’t blame the people who shot me. I blame the person who sold the gun used to shoot me. I blame those who allowed a careless shooter to kill my friend’s son, Tristian Hutchins, when he was just eight years old.

No eight-year-old should die from gun violence. No parent should ever have to be told that their child will never make it to fourth grade because of a bullet from a gun.

1,500 American kids die from gun violence every year, and hundreds more are shot and spend the rest of their lives living with the trauma of being shot.

The number of American kids who are exposed to gun violence every year is even higher, so high it almost doesn’t seem real.

Three million American kids are exposed to gun violence every year.

This is not okay.

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for black children. People don’t talk about this enough. They talk about mass shootings and they talk about the Second Amendment. But they don’t spend enough time talking about how to stop young people who look like me from getting shot.

Stopped, revisited, and reexamined. We need to do something more about gun violence. I am not against the Second Amendment. I am against sellers who don’t think about the responsibilities that should come with the Second Amendment. I am against sellers who sell to those who aren’t old enough to bear arms. To those who are prohibited from buying guns.

We need gun laws to go along with the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment doesn’t give you the right to buy a gun without a background check, or to buy a gun as a 15-year-old. If you want to bear arms, you have to also bear responsibility.

I can tell you from experience how dangerous guns are. I felt the bullets flying over my head. I woke up in the hospital, only to be told I would never walk again. I proved them wrong, and now I want to use my story to make sure things change.

Guns are not for aesthetic or coolness—they are for defense. They are for protecting yourself when you feel like your life is threatened. When people started firing into my ex-fiance’s house, I was asleep. When Tristian was shot, he was with his family. We weren’t a threat to anyone. But the bullets didn’t know that.

I know how lucky I am that I made it. I want to use my experience to help make sure that this doesn’t keep happening.

1,500 kids shot and killed every year is 1,500 too many.

Gun dealers and gun owners need to start taking responsibility for their actions, so kids like Tristian can make it to fourth grade. So young people like me don’t go to sleep one night and wake up in the hospital the next morning. Please start taking our futures seriously.