Recently, a 7 year old boy in Rocky Mount Va., died from a gun shot wound. He and his 12 year old brother had been unsafely handling the weapon. Each time I read a similar story, I realize how blessed I am, because I survived being shot at close range, with a 12 gauge shot gun.
Sometime in 1975, I am not sure when, my grandmother’s sister, my great aunt asked her to keep a gun. My great aunt lived in the city 12 miles from our county home. I do not know the details, but from what I can gather, my aunt was afraid her second oldest son might use the gun and get himself in trouble.
I have no idea who the gun was registered to, or why my cousins had it. In 1975, guns laws were not what they are today. All I remember is, my grandmother put the gun in the back of a closet that was underneath out stairs. This was one of those closets that got smaller as you got to the back, and you had to bend down to get through it.
On New year’s Eve 1975, I was 17. My grandmother went to church service. At about 5 before midnight I was sitting in a chair, talking on the phone with a guy I had recently met. My middle brother was upstairs in his room, and my baby brother walked into the room holding the shot gun.
He sat down on the couch which was about 4 feet from me. Just as I hung up the phone he called my name. When I looked up he said, “I’m going to shoot you,” and he did. My left arm became numb and I grabbed it with my right hand. Because there was no feeling I believed my arm had been shot off.
I called up the stairs for my middle brother, telling him to run to the church and get grandma because our baby brother had shot my arm off. I was wearing a blue jean jacket, even so I did not look down as I did not want to go into shock. I called my mother who lived in the city, and then I dialed 0 for the operator, as there was no 911 in place at that time.
At the hospital I was told my left lung collapsed, so they cut a hole in the top of my chest near my collar bone and inserted a breathing tube. A second one was inserted underneath my left breast. They told me I was shot in the chest, and the BB like pellets, stopped two inches from my heart, and ricocheted shattering the bones in my left arm. I was in the hospital for 10 days and wore a cast for 6 weeks.
I have been told that being shot at such close range I should have died. I believe it was divine intervention that prevented the bullets from penetrating my heart. Every time I hear of a child dying from an accidental gunshot wound, I cry, because it could have been me.
There is only one fool proof way to prevent these accidents from killing our children, and that is to not own a gun or allow them in your home. We know this will not become universal because many Americans believe in their right to bare arms. If you are going to own firearms, at least keep guns unloaded, and or locked away from children.
My brother said he had no idea my aunt sent a loaded gun to our home, and he was just playing around. He was terrified by what happened.Statistics indicate that 10,000 children are injured by gun shots annually, and at least 500 children die each year from gunshot wounds. it is important for gun owners to keep guns under lock and key, where curious young boys and girls cannot get a hold of them. Had my aunt at least unloaded the gun, I would not have been shot.
Today I have a dime size scar over my left breast where the pellets entered my body. There is a quarter size lump near my collar bones, and a scar under my left breast where they inserted the breathing tubes. I have a scar the size of a my palm on my left shoulder where they dug out pellets, Initially it was about 2 inches deep.
You can also see one green pellet that came to the surface of my left arm near the shoulder. I was told the body expels foreign matter, so there was no chance of the pellet traveling back near my heart. Initially these scars embarrassed me, but now each time I read that a child died from a gun shot wound, I realize my scars prove that I survived. For more information on gun safety and children you can check out the website of the NRA.