Paralyzed shooting victim speaks out on need for gun control

His life was changed forever in the blink of an eye:

I’m one of the 78,000 people a year who are lucky enough to survive a gun injury. Lucky is a relative term. I have a spinal cord injury. I struggle with relentless nerve pain. One gun, one bullet changes everything.

Little did I know that 4:29 pm, April 15, 2005 would be the last pain-free moment I’d ever spend in my lifetime. At 4:30 pm, I entered the outer lobby of a Detroit television station, and was shot at point blank range. There was no confrontation, no attempted robbery, no yelling and screaming. A young man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia quietly pulled a 33-caliber handgun out of his pocket and pulled the trigger. It’s amazing the pain one bullet can cause. It was a living nightmare, a nightmare I share with an estimated 309 people who are shot in America on any given day.

This is almost too horrible to write about. To be wheelchair-bound is bad enough; we take for granted the ability to get up off the couch and walk to the bathroom, or dash back into the house if we forgot our wallet or sunglasses. For somebody in a wheelchair, even the simplest of activities are a challenge. But to also be in constant pain from a spinal injury, a pain that never fades away, nor can it be "managed" with pain meds, is just incomprehensible to most of us. We can't imagine it. But we really need to try, if we are to hold our elected officials accountable and not allow the gun-nuts to dictate policy:

I acknowledge the right to bear arms is part of our constitution and culture, but I do believe the country needs to find a reasonable solution to reduce gun violence. While arguments for and against sensible gun laws are framed as a Second Amendment issue, I see it as a public health crisis.

I am saddened and angry that Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis voted recently to expand access to guns for people with severe mental illnesses – a vote that could result in more deaths, and more paralyzed bodies like my own. While the NRA continues to control many in Congress and the White House, I hope gun violence victims and families continue to share their pain, heartache and outrage. One gun and one bullet changes everything.

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