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Averting a crisis: Shooting victim, gun owner pushes for common-sense gun bill to pass in Kentucky

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 17:54:05-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As she was on the Fifth Third Bank floor in downtown Cincinnati on September 6 of 2018, unable to move and unsure if she'd survive, Whitney Austin knew she would do something if her life were spared.

Austin was hit by 12 bullets fired from Omar Perez's gun, the man accused of opening fire and killing three that day while wounding several others. Police eventually shot and killed Perez to end the situation.

Austin is now working with lawmakers in Kentucky to pass a common-sense gun bill, which she feels even the most ardent of 2nd Amendment supporters can get behind.

"If you truly believe in the 2nd Amendment and want your firearm for the duration of your life, you should recognize that intervening before that crisis happens is good for you," she said. Austin made those comments during a virtual rally to gain support for the bill, which should hit the Senate floor in Kentucky during this legislative session.

Austin and her husband are gun owners and are not interested in getting them all off the street or making the purchase of a firearm more challenging.

"Guns are not a dirty word in our house, neither are gun owners," she said. "But they can have a crisis moment like anyone else, and we want to help them," she added.

"CARR," Crisis Aversion and Rights Retention is Austin's way of helping people recognize a problem exists with a gun owner and alleviating that issue before it becomes a potential tragedy. Should a gun owner need this type of intervention, his/her gun would be taken away and placed in safekeeping until a judge deems the intervention a success. The gun could then be returned.

The bill has bipartisan support.

"You're a gun owner, I'm a gun owner," said Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Ky). "I believe that it is our constitutional right, and this doesn't violate that. This goes after trying to help people," he continued.

During today's rally, Austin became emotional after hearing from Mark Barden. Mr. Barden's son was killed in 2012 during the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

"Good on you, Kentucky, and your wonderful state legislature for bringing this important, effective legislation to your constituents across the state," Barden said.

Austin felt it was something she had to do and knew she would do it even as she was clinging to life on a Cincinnati bank floor.

"Intervening before that crisis happens is good for you," she stressed, "it's good to get you to a better place," she added before sprinkling in the part that it will be of utmost importance to those not in favor of any law that restricts their rights.

"It's good so you can retain your rights," she said, noting the bill won't allow a convicted felon to carry a firearm legally.