Texas Disability Groups Want A Voice At The Table In Gun Debate

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story could be republished without cost (details).

A incapacity rights group in Texas despatched out a survey final month, attempting to determine what number of of its members turned disabled as a consequence of gun violence. The group, ADAPT of Texas, mentioned it’s an effort to gather knowledge that can assist inform Texas lawmakers on how they legislate weapons.

Bob Kafka is an organizer with ADAPT and mentioned that when gun violence occurs, notably mass shootings, the general public tends to have a fairly restricted dialogue about what occurs to the victims.

Susan Nelson was a kind of victims. About 25 years in the past, she was having dinner at a buddy’s home. Her buddy had a gun.

“It was registered and everything,” she mentioned of her buddy’s firearm.

There was additionally a younger man there that night time. He’d been thrown out of his dad and mom’ home and appeared unstable. He discovered the gun and confronted each Nelson and her buddy, saying he was going to rob after which kill them. Nelson mentioned he then shot her in her left shoulder.

“I stood up to turn to run and was shot in the back of the head,” she mentioned. “My friend was as well, and that’s the last part I remember from the shooting. My friend died in flight to the hospital, and I woke from a coma two weeks later.”

She was 29 and needed to begin her life throughout.

“I was paralyzed,” she mentioned. “I could barely read and write. My vision was really bad, so I had to spend the next seven months in therapy relearning everything and working really, really hard.”

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Her laborious work paid off. Nelson can stroll now and is writing once more, working as an author and speaker. Her imaginative and prescient is nice, however she nonetheless lives with varied disabilities.

“It takes me longer to formulate my sentences because my brain doesn’t work as fast to make the words come out of my mouth as fast as I’d like,” she mentioned.

This expertise hasn’t modified Nelson’s relationship with weapons very a lot, although. She grew up in southeast Texas surrounded by weapons. She mentioned she nonetheless thinks people who find themselves accountable ought to be capable of have them.

“I am not against guns. And I don’t know that [for] everyone who gets shot [the ordeal is] going to turn them against guns,” she mentioned.

This is one thing Kafka mentioned he’s anticipating because the survey outcomes are available in. He desires to be taught what number of members are on this class and their ideas on weapons, with the intention to educate lawmakers and testify on gun laws. Kafka mentioned he hopes to listen to a variety of views on weapons from the group of individuals residing with disabilities, as a result of it’s so huge.

“We have people on both sides of the issue,” he mentioned. “There are probably NRA members in the disability community.”

He factors out that Texas’ very conservative and really pro-gun governor, Greg Abbott, has used a wheelchair since he was 26 after a tree fell on him whereas he was jogging after a storm.

Kafka mentioned we should always hear from people who find themselves disabled as a consequence of gun violence as a result of we not often do.

“Not only do we not talk about it, it’s invisible,” he mentioned. “The media loves to focus on how many people died and then they have the sort of ‘other injured,’ but I’ve never seen where they follow the rehab of somebody.”

Mass shootings additionally are likely to garner plenty of media attetion, mentioned Noam Ostrander, with the Department of Social Work at DePaul University in Chicago. Ostrander mentioned lots of people change into disabled due to day-to-day gun violence in main cities. For a few years, Ostrander labored with gang members on the west facet of Chicago who turned paralyzed after being shot.

“The cost of that injury, and that often then becomes a public cost, is astronomical, and I think that would be shocking to a lot of folks,” he mentioned.

It’s additionally simple to neglect, Ostrander mentioned, that amongst victims of gun violence, about three to 5 occasions the quantity of people that die from it actually survive.

This story is a part of a partnership that features KUT, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story could be republished without cost (details).

Ashley Lopez, KUT:”>, @‪@AshLopezRa‪dio

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