LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Recovering from 12 gunshot wounds was actually the easy part for Whitney Austin.
"It's never completely gone, it’s never completely resolved and certainly when these shootings happen, they stir up a lot of difficult emotions," Austin said from her Louisville home on Tuesday.
Austin was shot in September 2018 when a shooter opened fire at the 5/3 Bank in downtown Cincinnati. The mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday during which a shooter killed 10 people inside a grocery store, hit her in a way most don't understand.
"We don't have to live this. This is not normal," she said.
Austin is a gun owner who is advocating for more common-sense gun laws. She's worked the last couple of years on her "WhitneyStrong" foundation, putting together a bill for Kentucky lawmakers to consider during their current legislative session. Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention, or CARR, is aimed at helping those who legally own guns to retain that right by ensuring their mental health is strong before a problem arises.
"Even people that are in a very good state right now, mentally, are at their breaking point because of COVID," she said, sounding concerned that what happened in Atlanta last week, and Colorado on Tuesday, could be just the beginning as we re-enter society following the pandemic.
Her bill is for the benefit of the gun owner, helping them to retain their legal right to carry before a felony conviction strips that away.
"What we need is some political will and the ability to come together and recognize that this is a public health issue," Austin said.
The issue nearly cost her, her life. And three years later the scars remain.
"I can't extend my arm as much as I'd like, but I can still throw a football and a baseball and that's what's important," Austin.