A long many years ago, I had a friend who was a gun collector.
One summer night as we were preparing to go to a local swimming hole with friends, John dropped one of his collectibles in the parking lot.
A pearl-handled .22, the weapon was equipped with a "hair trigger," which means the slightest pressure could make it fire.
The gun went off when it hit the pavement.
It shot me in the chest.
I was 17, the same age as three of the victims of the latest school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
I still remember the look of horror on my friend’s face, and my sister standing over me screaming, even as my hand clutched the spot between my ribs where the bullet had just ripped a hole.
It was the same look on my mother's face when she later arrived at the hospital. A nurse who knew what a gunshot wound to the chest often means, she stayed bedside in the hospital with me for a week, watching and hoping with surgeons for the bullet to move away from the lung it was pressing on and making it difficult for me to breathe.
I think about this now, as I watch student gun-control advocates marching in front of the White House, carrying signs that say "Enough is enough," taking to stages and podiums with a fervor resembling Vietnam War protests of the 1960s.
I think about this now, and I think, OK, maybe John needed that one gun. He worked at a bar and kept a weapon behind the counter for protection. Maybe hunters, too, need a gun for one kind of animal and another for another kind.
I think about this now, and I know that in my perfect world and, I imagine, in the perfect world of many Parkland families, there’d be no more guns anywhere, no weapons to accidentally or willfully hurt any children, or adults, ever again.
Yet I, a gunshot victim, and the Parkland students I’ve heard speak, are prepared to stand in compromise with rational gun ownership and better regulations.
And if gunshot victims and survivors are prepared to compromise, shouldn’t gun owners be prepared to do the same?
This is the disconnect.
In the common desire for a better society, the reasoned, law-abiding gun owners among us need to be the first in line with those Parkland children, renouncing the winner-takes-all cartoon version of the Second Amendment that favors rights over reason.
If Parkland survivors are willing to be OK with the existence of even one gun, judicious gun owners need to be first-responder role models, joining with these brave young people to thoughtfully consider such common-sense protocol as a buyback and then a banning of semi-automatic weapons; a banning of bump stocks; and regulations that go beyond lip service.
Scroll through Facebook and you will likely come across the gone-viral video of the gun owner with "Second Amendment" tattooed on his arm. Three days after Parkland, he filmed himself intentionally destroying his $700 AR-15 to make a point. So far, 28 million people have watched. Said Scott Pappalardo of Scotchtown, N.Y.: "I’d gladly give this gun up if it would save the life of just one child."
This is the action required now: Courage and reason among common-sense gun owners who have not pledged allegiance to the NRA in return for campaign contributions; who are not the kind of people to make death threats against teen-agers; who will not denigrate the courage and sensibilities of children by calling them actors in a political game; who will instead seize the opportunity to give voice to the newest survivors of American massacre as they take to the streets of our nation’s capital March 24 in the March for Our Lives.
I carry a bullet in me every day. Surgeons determined that digging it out would cause more problems than leaving it in.
Entering my body via the narrow space between my ribs, the bullet bypassed my liver, gall bladder and diaphragm, threatened to puncture my lung for several days, then miraculously shifted to a resting place in the center of my body two inches from my heart.
I'm told the bullet is encased in scar tissue now. I’m told I don't have excess lead in my body, that the bullet is not going to suddenly move and penetrate my heart.
The incident yet left its mark, not only a piece of lead and an inch-wide keloid scar I couldn’t stop touching for years, but Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am shivering as I write this.
As for my friend, John, he was charged with illegally discharging a weapon. He paid my medical bills, and then I never heard from him again. I looked him up recently and see from his obituary that he became an avid outdoorsman. He died 15 years ago, leaving three children.
I know from experience that gunshot survivors never fully recover. My children have learned to warn me before coming into the house abruptly as sudden movement or noise can make me scream.
I also know all is not lost.
I am alive, yet determined to seek out opportunities for peace and healing, purpose and meaning in this.
As are the courageous students of Parkland in the defining moment of their young lives.
We can shout them and the Parkland massacre down with the same, outmoded interpretations of the Second Amendment.
Or we can dare to be heroes for a new age, too.
Journalist Debra-Lynn B. Hook of Kent, Ohio, has been writing about family life since 1988 when she was pregnant with the first of her three children. Her blog is http://debralynnhook.blogspot.com/.Her web site is www.debralynnhook.com. E-mails are welcome at email@example.com.