Alabamian recounts what it was like getting shot in a state that loves guns

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Where I’m from, we like guns. They are as much a part of our story as Jesus, ‘Roll Tide,’ and monograms. Even if you’ve never shot one, you appreciate the romance.

Those are words of Tuscaloosa-native, Elaina Plott, a Congressional reporter for “The Atlantic,” in a soon-to-be printed, must-read article titled “The Bullet In My Arm.”

Plott, who was shot while she was driving home at the age of 21, recounts her personal experience with gun violence and how it’s shaped her thinking about guns in the years that have followed. The piece not only shines light on how she felt getting shot, but it also delves in the complexities of what it means to be a gun owner in the South, and what she thinks Congress needs to be doing to curb gun violence.

Sometimes a friend would ask whether my feelings on gun rights had changed. I usually said “I don’t know,” and that was true. Knee-jerk calls for gun control didn’t resonate with me. Yet a reverence toward guns no longer felt right either.

I found my ambivalence unsettling. Everyone else seemed so sure about how to feel about guns—people on campus, on the internet, back home. Unlike most of them, I had made intimate acquaintance with gun violence. I should have had some special insight. If what had happened to me wasn’t fodder for clarity, I feared nothing ever would be.

Plott details how her ambiguity towards gun control began to shift after 2018’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla. It was then, that she began to ask the questions that so many in the South who “cling to their guns” are thinking: how can we stop the violence, but uphold the Second Amendment?

Plott has a few ideas, like age restrictions.

In all the times I’ve talked with GOP lawmakers about guns, why have they never mentioned that age restrictions are, for many conservatives, a worthwhile starting point? Better question: Do they even know?

…Lawmakers of both parties are alienating reasonable and responsible gun owners out of deference to extremists, sure. Acknowledging the ambiguities, the gray areas, of American attitudes toward guns—all the things that could make a gun-violence victim want to go shooting, or a firearms dealer decide to regulate his own shop—won’t solve this problem, or single-handedly stem gun deaths. But continuing to see things in the current terms pretty much guarantees that we’ll get nowhere.

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