In this April 18, 2018 photo, Ronny Ahmed, 25, and service dog Marino use a wheelchair ramp to enter the Florida State University's library in Tallahassee, Fla. Ahmed, who is a student at FSU, was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot twice while taking a study break outside this library (Alessandra Da Pra/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - On the day of his speech at the State Capitol, Ronny Ahmed[1] wakes alone with a hard knot of pain under his rib cage and no one to help knead it.

The caregiver must be late. No time to shower, then. Not much time to prepare. In his wheelchair by the TV, by a table cluttered with pill bottles and Nintendo controllers, Ronny[2] scrolls on his phone, trying to pin down how much the National Rifle Association[3] spends in politics. Maybe better to hedge. Who’s listening, anyway?

He’s newly 25, shiny birthday balloons still floating in the living room, and three and a half years into his paraplegic life, the one that began with a few bullets outside the Florida State University library[4] in 2014.

The old version of Ronny[5] wasn’t sought out for his thoughts on guns. That Ronny[6] liked to do magic tricks and walk barefoot to class to see people’s reactions. He was going to graduate in 2015.

This Ronny[7], graduation date TBD, wheels up the ramp into his special van and hauls his paralyzed legs into the driver’s seat. He presses down on his thighs to calm the spasms.

His service dog, Marino, a yellow lab, slumps in the backseat, panting.

In the budding April heat, Ronny[8] drives past the brick halls and garnet bus stops of FSU[9]’s campus, past the bike racks and the trees draped in Spanish moss. The Capitol rises up ahead.

Ronny[10]’s already counting the faces in the crowd, worrying about how he’ll get up the steps.

He only agrees to these speeches because he doesn’t want to let people down. The world wants a certain kind of survivor....

…It was around midnight, in the last stretch before winter finals. Inside the fluorescent Strozier Library[11], Ronny[12] typed up Physics II equations. “Wanna go out for a cigarette?” a friend asked, and they stepped out into the chill.Ronny[13] had finished his smoke when he heard a pop and saw someone rounding the bushes with silver in his hand. He saw the man’s hard-set face and watched him aim. Pop. Pop. Ronny[14]’s legs gave out.“Call 911,” Ronny[15] said from the ground, and his friend dialed and ran, leaving Ronny[16] alone with the operator.There’s been a shooting, he remembers saying. Send help.Was anyone shot?Yes. Me.Ronny[17] lifted his right arm. It hung shattered, like jelly. He wanted to talk to his mom. Blood trickled between the bricks in right angles.Is this really happening? Is this how I’m going to f–—g die?He thought about how expensive a funeral would be.On the edge of his vision, officers cornered the gunman and screamed, “Freeze,

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