In 2011, the most recent year for which we have data, 1,255 people died from gunshot wounds in California. That's more than three people a day. Many others are wounded, sometimes turning lives and families upside down. Host Scott Shafer has this story of an Oakland family dealing with the aftermath of a random shooting.
It was November 6, 2011. Rochelle Owens-Johnson and her family were living in West Oakland at the time. Her son -- Kenny-Rae -- was 14. He had spent the night with a friend. Two teenagers drove past him. Then he says, they stopped, backed up, got out, and started shooting.
"It happened in the morning. So I had came from my friend's house. And I was walking home. And everything happened hecka' fast. It was like I was in a movie or something," he says.
Rochelle remembers, "I had a phone call saying they hate to be the bearer of bad news, that my son had just got shot. So we ran around the corner to see what was happening and there was nothing but yellow tape up. I don't know how many police cars and yellow tape was everywhere and my son was just laying [sic] on the ground bleeding."
A doctor and a nurse attending services at a nearby church came to help Kenny. She knew her son couldn't move his legs. Rochelle says it took a long time for an ambulance to come.
Kenny-Rae's older sister, Kasandra adds, "We got there, and I just seen him on the ground. I don't know, I just started screaming, telling him I loved him. That's all I could do -- tell him I loved him."
Since that day, Rochelle says, life has never been the same for her family.
"I couldn't work anymore. My husband stopped working. It's been a long journey; it's been a real long journey," Rochelle says.
Before he was shot, Kenny-Rae was a very good student -- and he's proud to say, a star athlete. As he explains, "It was eighth grade year. I was just really into playing basketball and sports and stuff. I played point guard and power forward for my team. We won the city champs. High school -- that was gonna be my years, that I really probably got out there."
But Kenny-Rae's basketball days are behind him now. The shooting on that November morning left him paralyzed -- unable to walk, much less run and shoot hoops.
"Our lives have been just, just -- it's like starting all over again," Rochelle says, "trying to nurture a child back to health, and it's like starting all over again. I wouldn't wish this on any family."
For help, the Johnsons turned to social workers at Catholic Charities in Oakland. They do grief counseling with families of murder victims. They also work with so-called "non-fatals" like Kenny-Rae Johnson -- people shot and seriously wounded.
Counselor Ricardo Peña says, "You start to see how everybody in your home and everybody associated with the person who has been murdered has been affected. So you feel that everyone has been wrong and that brings up anger."
With inner city gun violence Peña says families of the victims and the perpetrators often know each other. And teenagers he says, whether or not they're directly involved, can develop a kind of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from constant exposure to the turmoil.
"These kids start to internalize and they start to think that this is normal. It takes something away from the human spirit and you really start to feel a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness," Peña says.
In the Johnson family's case, there's the extra work of helping Kenny-Rae Johnson adjust to life in a wheelchair.
Peña's co-worker, Counselor Xavier Arango, understands what Kenny-Rae's going through. Arango also uses a wheelchair after being shot six years ago.
"Most of the time your back hurts, or you are in a lot of nerve pain," Arango says. "That happens when something touches your spine, you'll just be in a lot of pain that medicine can't really do nothing for you."
Arango, who came to California from Columbia as a kid, says after his injury he became bitter -- and extremely violent.
"You know, you go through a lot of ugly things, and then I was what? Seventeen-years-old, and in a wheelchair with an angry mind? It's very dangerous, you know?" Arango says.
Today Arango has turned his mind toward helping victims of violence -- a change that came he says after attending too many funerals.
"The most horrible pain the most horrible pain you could see; somebody's mother just crying, and crying, and crying and so many tears and so much pain, that just made me quit, quit the life, man," Arango says.
Xavier has helped teach Kenny-Rae basic things -- like how to get in and out of a car. They visit the marina and talk about fishing, how to stay positive and re-imagine a life shattered by bullets.
In the living room of their new home, Kenny-Rae's dad -- Big Kenny -- explains that tries to encourage his son ... despite the crushing loss they all feel. "The hardest part is that my son can't walk anymore, can't play basketball, can't pursue his dream, that's the hardest part for me."
When asked what he can do for Kenny-Rae, Big Kenny responded that he will "Just let him know I'm here. I'll always be here. If he doesn't walk he can still be successful in life."
With Kenny-Rae's hopes of basketball stardom now a dream deferred, his little brother -- 12-year-old Keshad seems to feel the weight of carrying his big brother's hopes on his shoulders now.
"He taught me how to play basketball. Him and my dad," Keshad says. "So I gotta take it all the way now. Like what he wanted to do, I want to do now."
The family remains hopeful that Kenny-Rae will one day walk again. He's able to move his legs a bit -- and tries to use leg braces -- but his full recovery is by no means certain.
Meanwhile, he struggles in school and fights off feelings of isolation -- and frustration at not being able to do the things he loves.
His alleged shooters will soon stand trial. I ask Rochelle Johnson what she'd like to say to them if she gets the chance.
"I want to know why. I mean how could they sleep with their self at night. Just knowing that you just shot somebody that you don't even know, or don't know you, it's senseless," she says.