In 2015, there were 2,800 gun-related deaths in Texas. Even so, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas ranked 23rd in mortality rates for firearm deaths that year. I recently had a nightmare that I was gunned down in my wheelchair in my apartment, and while I know the odds of my dream coming true are about as good as a reality TV star’s becoming leader of the free world, I also should have known the Apprentice host would end up as Commander-in-chief on a cold December evening two years ago. That’s when my roommates were convinced that a celebratory rave would be the highlight of our year. We never imagined some DJs would view the shindig as an opportunity to settle a grudge with a rival.
The music was loud, but we still heard the two gunshots outside the apartment. I started quaking in disbelief as my mind attempted to process what had happened. I could not fathom why my life was nearly snuffed out by a naive kid handling a 9mm Glock. People began fleeing my apartment as the shooter instantly realized he had shot himself in the foot. I sat in sheer shock wondering why a teenager was able to obtain an object that kills 33,000 Americans per year, according to FiveThirtyEight. The Washington Post also said that 357 million guns were estimated to have entered the United States in 2013. This equates to about one gun for every person in America.
Two main ways that our country could curb the nation’s gun homicide rate are universal background checks and a 10-day waiting period. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Americans support creating a federal database for tracking gun sales in America. Last year, police chiefs around the country announced their full-pledged support for the expansion of background checks covering all gun purchasers. I wrote this editorial because our nation is at a crossroads. One semiautomatic rifle in a domestic terrorist’s hand is a recipe for countless disasters. Another major concern is that two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides. A background check and waiting period would undoubtedly save many lives. Our founding fathers never imagined powerful machine guns like the kind we have today. I expect there would have been mandatory background checks and 10-day waiting lists if people were buying AR-15s in 1792.
Nearly being senselessly killed by a stray bullet opened my eyes about the necessities of gun reform in our nation. Nobody should be allowed to retain the capacity of wrecking places like Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Benton, and now Florida.
Jay Prophet is a journalist with severe cerebral palsy who lives in Grand Prairie.