AMERICA’S GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Jean Eason

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Talia Herman

In December 2011, Eason, a 23-year-old Army veteran who had served in Afghanistan, was sitting with a friend in a car in Oakland, California, when someone began shooting through the back window. Eason was shot in the leg as he tried to jump out of the car.

We were sitting out in front of his house. I remember exactly what we were talking about. Anyone who knows me knows I love football. We were talking about that, and [my friend] looked in the rearview mirror and saw some guys approaching the car. I guess he saw them pull out a gun, but by the time I got my car started, I couldn't get out of that parking spot. They started shooting and I dived out the window, like a fucking idiot, instead of opening the door and falling out.

They say from the second that you touch down in Afghanistan, you are in an immediate battle zone. But there was nothing like that. They shot mortars at our base a few times, but they have to be pretty goddamn precise. Which was to me the big coincidence — I joined something that could definitely put my life in the line of fire. Only happen to me.

Before the Army, I'd seen guns on Cops or TV shows or something, but I never touched one. Never. I never touched one since I've been out, either, and that's out of fear. They're pretty good at teaching you things you'll never forget. I know how to put an M4 together, but I wouldn't fuck with it.

“I joined something that could definitely put my life in the line of fire.”

I'm pro-gun, but I'm also very pro-safe-gun. I don't think regular civilians have a need for a fucking semiautomatic. We all know the difference between a .50-cal sniper rifle and a regular hunting rifle.

As told to Elisabeth Garber-Paul

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