When I was 8 years old, I was shot by a 14-year-old neighbor who was angry at me and my brother. He used a shotgun, which his parents had left loaded and unsecured. I was far enough away that I was not badly injured, only three small buckshot wounds to my neck, hand and thigh. I did not fully comprehend until I was an adult (actually as a Moms volunteer) the fact that had I been a few yards closer, the result would have been tragically different. I know that my parents were badly shaken at the time, of course, as they fully comprehended what I did not.
I have always assumed that my discomfort around guns stemmed from this incident. As a U.S. Army Nurse Corps officer, I was required to handle and fire weapons in basic training. There was no requirement to be proficient, simply to familiarize. With that exception, I have never handled a firearm and, in fact, recoil whenever I see one. As a nurse, I have often interacted with victims of gun violence and will continue to work to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country.