In March, The Huffington Post began talking to teens and adults throughout the U.S. about their experiences with gun violence. This is one person's story. You can read others here.
This past spring, HuffPost met with a group of teens and young adults at Washington's Potomac Gardens housing project on Capitol Hill. In one-on-one interviews, they discussed their own encounters with violence and the culture of guns. The threat was always there -- in school, at the basketball court, at the subway stop. Here are two voices from those individual sessions.
Erica, 15, tells the story of seeing a gun for the first time and the impact that crime had on her.
I was 14. It was me and [two friends]. ... We was on Georgia Avenue NW at Petworth Metro Station. It was hood beefs. We was on the Ave, Georgia Ave., chilling waiting for the bus, and this boy came down with his friends. The boy pulled out a gun and put it to one of my friends. All I can remember was the color -- it was a silver gun. It was like a medium-sized gun. It didn't look new.
We all ran. He started chasing us with the gun.
I was really scared. I wasn't thinking. Just let me hurry up home to tell my family what just happened.
I was screaming, "Help, he has a gun!" And I was crying.
The boy threw some type of glass bottle at my foot.
My big brother, I guess he was down the street from where I was, my brother was walking with his friends to the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station. He heard me screaming. He asked me what happened and he took me home. He was just holding me and telling me we're going to be OK. He told me I was going to be OK.
He told my father. He was angry, I guess, because I was young -- 14 -- and he was scared for my life. Something could have happened. My father got angry. He was very mad. I wanted to move from uptown. I just didn't want to live up there no more. And my mother was crying and hugging me, telling me everything was going to be OK. We didn't move.
It never came up again.
Sometimes, when I'm alone, I just be thinking about [it]. There's just a lot of stuff going through my head. It's just when, I guess, when it just be ... I could picture the gun in my head. I'm more watchful. I could picture -- it's like a vision: he putting the gun to my head and pointing the gun at me. He never fires the gun.
Akua, 16, talks about how easily gun violence is threatened at school.
When we be in school, say people get in an argument, they got to bring a gun. He be like, "I'm going to get my .30" or "I'm going to come back around here and bust you if I see you walking down the street." People say that very often around here. Or some people actually have a gun on them or a gun in their house. But I don't know till I see one.
I just walk away. I don't want to be a part of that. I don't do all that hood games, repping hoods.
Sometimes it bothers me. They just be talking about it. ... Not every day, but almost every day, they be talking about a gun. I walk in the hallway and there's some people arguing in the hallway. It always seems in an argument the person says, "I'm going to get my gun."
The teachers just say, "You all better not be talking about this in school."