AMERICA’S GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Jennifer Longdon

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Marie Baronnet

In 2004, Longdon, 54, and her then-fiancé, David, were in the parking lot of a local taco shop near their home in Phoenix, when they were sideswiped by a pickup truck. Someone inside the truck opened fire. The assailant was never found and no motive has been established.

As we pulled into that parking lot, we're still in that "best-vacation-ever, we're-getting-married" romantic bliss. Life couldn't have been any more perfect in that moment. And then there was this really loud sound.

The irony was that we were armed, but David didn't have the opportunity to fire. And he's a four-time world champion in tae kwon do, a fifth-degree black belt. There is not a human being with faster reflexes.

That's the most arrogant fallacy the gun lobby perpetuates: Maybe you're armed, but you're not ready to be shot at, and it's that split second that makes all the difference. People don't realize, even if they're carrying, just how unprepared they are if they're ambushed and shot in a public place.

“People don't realize how unprepared they are if they're ambushed in a public place.”

I own a handgun, and a hunting rifle — legacy guns from my family — and I own a Glock .45. I'm going to be first in line to protest when we start doing gun grabs, but there need to be universal background checks. It's reasonable and prudent to know who is owning the firearms. Certain machines don't belong in civilian hands. AK-47s were designed to kill, to sweep streets in military conflict — I don't think that belongs in the hands of civilians. We prevent tyranny at the ballot box, not at muzzle point.

As told to Elisabeth Garber-Paul

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