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Jahaziel Iracheta Headshot

The Seconds That Matter

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High school senior Freddy Munguia was driving from his girlfriend's home in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles on Jan. 2013 when several people opened fire on him. Munguia died from multiple gunshot wounds. The crime is believed to be gang related, said LAPD Det. Carrillo to The Huffington Post, but Freddy was not part of a gang, she confirmed. Police are still investigating his murder.

If my friend Freddy had his own gun, I think he'd still be alive.

Now that he's gone, I know that gun violence can happen to anyone. I could be walking down the street and get shot at. That's why when I'm an adult with my own house, I'm going to legally obtain my own gun to protect myself.

I would get a gun right now if I had the money. I live with my mom and two older brothers in El Sereno, and we've heard a lot of gunshots on our street.

When we first moved in, our neighbors' cars were shot up.

Last year, we were watching Dragonball-Z on TV when we heard the sound of fireworks, but it turned out to be gunshots. We waited until the shooter's car pulled out of our street before going outside to see what happened. My brother's car was shot.

Another time, my brother was outside with some friends when a car full of gang members slowed down and stared at them. Driving away, they hit all the parked cars on our street. It was an intimidation tactic.

That's what I would use a gun for: intimidation. Just because you have a gun, you don't have to use it. Anti-gun people just think about all the bad things that could happen, but they never talk about the people that defend themselves. They assume that if you've defending yourself, you've killed someone. But you could just use it to scare someone, like a burglar.

I've already used a gun before. I was at the L.A. gun club with my brothers last January when I shot my first gun. I was scared to fire it at first, but it turned out to be pretty fun. We kind of want to do it more often, but it costs a lot of money.

I know it's not a toy but when you shoot it you think about the power -- like that's what's coming at me if I get shot. I know that if I have no defense, I'm basically screwed.

If criminals have guns, I don't see why I can't have one either. It's for defense. You can't rely on cops because they're there after the crime has happened -- not in the seconds that matter.

Jahaziel Iracheta,18, is a senior at Alliance Environmental Science and Technology High school in Los Angeles, Calif.