• Jenny Xu

The Survivors of Gun Violence

In the US, 80% of all homicides are gun-related according to America’s Gun Culture in Charts. At times like these, photographers like Kathy Shorr, are using their skills to call for gun reform.

Shorr uses photojournalism to create a book that documents survivors of gun violence in a photo series, Shot: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence. The series captures subjects of all ages and backgrounds. The book contains candid statements from the survivors, who have different stances on gun rights. It is very geographically and ethnically diverse because gun violence affects everyone.

Gun violence has impacted Shorr’s life, inspiring this project. She was robbed in a home invasion where armed intruders threatened her and her daughter’s life. In an interview with Fader, she describes a feeling “of helplessness — someone else controlling your destiny — is something you never want to experience again... It’s probably the most awful feeling a human being can have, when someone else is in charge of your fate. It’s become part of my psyche now.”

When asked about what inspired the timing of the project, Shorr said that country was very polarized, and, since gun issues are not black-and-white, “if [she] could do a project where the abstraction of gun violence was taken away — so it could become something human with faces — that people would be able to confront this issue more easily.

The project captures 101 different people, under many different circumstances. The survivors are usually pictured where they were shot. Even when someone was shot in their house, they continued live there. Or, if they were shot in their car, they still drive the same one. Although their lives were interrupted, these people returned to them, often out of necessity. Most of the people who returned to the location in which they were shot felt good about it because they confronted their beast and moved past it. The locations were not scary, and most of them were in normal, everyday places. For example, there was a policewoman who was shot by her husband in a Walmart parking lot, which a lot of people can identify with. This project was not meant to divide people, but it is to show that gun violence can affect them or people they know. Some of the people that were photographed did not associate what happened to them with guns and kept their guns. An NRA member who was photographed would have died if he had not had his hun on him. There is a wide variety of stories, and people who own guns but want responsible gun laws hold the key to the issue of gun violence. Gun owners who want gun safety need to become more vocal and help work towards a solution.

Shot 101:

Kenner, Louisiana, 1994. Shot through the forehead at point-blank range, Sara was sitting in her mother’s car when a carjacker stole it. He drove to a field and raped her, and then made her kneel down and count to ten before attempting to execute her.

Aurora, Colorado, 2010. Standing with a group of friends outside of her high school, Karina, at age 16, became the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting fueled by gang revenge.

Long Island, New York, 2013. Janine, a Corrections officer, was accosted at home by her husband, a captain with the Corrections Department. He shot her after she told him that their marriage was over.

Miami, Florida, 2002. Rayvn was a teenager when he was blinded by a “friend.” Richards has since graduated from college and is now a motivational speaker on gun violence.
Fort Collins, Colorado 2015. After leaving her shift at a Holiday Inn around 11:00 pm, Cori got in her car to drive home. Headed for the freeway, she stopped at a red light. In the next second she was shot in the neck. The shooter then drove off.
New Castle, Delaware, 2015. College student Chris was struck four times in his car when a neighborhood acquaintance was trying to rob him. He lost a leg from the shooting.
Sisseton, South Dakota, 2014. As she ran toward her house, Native American Karissa was shot three times in the back by her abusive boyfriend. She was 22. He killed three people during the shooting spree, including her best friend. The boyfriend then turned the gun on himself.
Indianapolis, Indiana, 2014. Ambushed by her ex-husband, Shirley was shot as she got her daughters from nursery school. Her ex-husband used two guns and struck her 14 times. The former military man was released on $25,000 bail. (Shirley passed away from her injuries in March 2018)

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