In 2015, there was more than one mass shooting on average per day in the United States. Over several decades, increased media coverage of gun violence has brought the ever-present issue to the public eye. In a bid to raise awareness even further, New York photographer Kathy Shorr has examined the problem as part of a striking photo series.
Entitled "SHOT", the photographer started work on the project in 2013. In two and a half years, she has captured the gunshot scars of 101 men and women whom she refers to as "the survivors". For the most part Kathy takes her subjects back to the locations where the incidents occurred to create the images which are as inspirational as they are shocking.
A few years ago, Kathy Shorr was personally affected by the omnipresence of guns in her country. At the time, her child was just 16 months old when two men dressed as police officers burst into her home:
"It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. I know now what it feels like for a man to be in control of my destiny and that of the person I love the most, just by choosing whether or not to pull the trigger."
Following the incident, the American photographer made it her mission to photograph survivors of gun crime from various origins, ages and social backgrounds, giving them all the chance to speak out about their experiences.
In preparation for the project, Kathy embarked on a long period of research. Talking to victim support organisations, lawyers and doctors, she set about obtaining the contact details of her future models. Next, she sent out letters to the selected persons asking for their side of the story and their permission to be photographed:
"All the stories are heartbreaking but inspirational. The positive aspects stay with me the most. They come from the strength of those who moved on, who pursued their life. The project wasn't sad as much as it was inspirational."
"Owning a gun is not being a bad person"
The second amendment of the United States Constitution states that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." And surprisingly, Kathy is not necessarily against the household possession of automatic weapons: "You have to understand that owning a gun is not being a bad person. Most gun owners are responsible."
For her, a total ban is not the answer; instead, she suggests that the solution lies with compromise:
"America is a vast country, we have different states and cultures. Taking guns away is not the solution, we can't do that, it's not possible because of American culture.
I understand that there are too many people who have grown up with hunting and shooting sports. We must talk about WHO should have guns."
In some states, anyone can walk into a gun store and purchase a weapon without being subject to background checks. And as Kathy states, "There are too many guns in the United States that fall into the wrong hands."
The photographer believes that stricter regulations and controls on gun ownership would go some way to resolving the issue:
"First, focus on background. It's a simple thing. If you have a car, you have to register it. The same thing should apply to gun policy."
Kathy Shorr's ever-growing project is regularly shared online via her site, her Tumblr and her Instagram account, with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers of gun irresponsibility. Additionally, a book illustrating her images is currently in the works.
"Most stories sound like they happened in a movie", says Kathy on her work. "But this is not a movie. This is real life, it's happening in real life."