Portraits Of Shooting Victims Show The Real Aftermath Of Gun Violence In America

Photographer and teacher Kathy Shorr never in a million years imagined herself staring down the barrel of a gun, but a decade ago that's exactly where she and her then 16-month-old baby found themselves when two men dressed as mailman robbed them at gunpoint inside their New York apartment. 

Shorr and her baby were fortunately unharmed but the traumatic event left an indelible imprint on her. She tells Konbini:

"The experience of having a gun pointed at you and that moment and the fear that someone can just decide to end your or the ones you love the most lives is something that you’ll never forget."

The impact of surviving this traumatic home invasion had Shorr reflecting on other survivors who weren't as lucky as she was that fateful day.

Early one evening Sahar Khoshakhlagh was strolling through Times Square with her cousin when she was hit. A police officer was pursuing someone else when he fired. Manhattan, New York, 2013 (Photo: Kath Shorr)

One early evening, Sahar was strolling through Times Square with her cousin when she was hit. A police officer was pursuing someone else when he fired. Manhattan, New York, 2013 (Photo: Kath Shorr)

Going beyond abstract notion of gun violence

As a photography teacher in New York's public schools, Shorr often witnessed many of her students memorializing family and friends killed by gun violence with pictures of them hanging around their neck.

"I started to wonder – does anybody think about the survivors? People think you’re lucky you are alive so we don’t have to think about you anymore, but these survivors have physical and emotional injuries that can be extremely damaging."

From 2013 to 2015, Shorr traveled 100,000 miles cross country to photograph survivors of gun violence for a book of portraits,  SHOT: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence in America, that takes an unflinching look at the people and the stories behind the alarming statistics.

According to nonprofit and nonpartisan research group Gun Violence Archive, in 2016 there were 15,052 deaths and 30,601 injuries caused by guns in this country. There are more mass shootings in America than in any country in the world.

Shorr believes that adding a human face to the debate over guns control would allow us to go beyond the "abstract notion of gun violence" to come to a more universal analysis of this very polarizing epidemic affecting people from all walks of life.

Antonius Wiriadjaja was struck by a random bullet as he walked down a crowded Brooklyn street. The intended target was the ex-girlfriend of the shooter. Brooklyn, New York, 2013 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Antonius was struck by a random bullet as he walked down a crowded Brooklyn street. The intended target was a pregnant woman he knew. Brooklyn, New York, 2013 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Standing with a group of friends outside of her high school, Karina became the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting fueled by gang revenge. She was 16. Aurora, Colorado, 2010 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Standing with a group of friends outside of her high school, Karina became the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting fueled by gang revenge. She was 16. Aurora, Colorado, 2010 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Proof that violence does not discriminate

The 101 survivors in the book are proof that gun violence does not discriminate. SHOT features a diverse group of men, women and children of  different races, ethnicities and ages (8 to 80.)

Shorr photographed most of them at the location where they were shot to drive home the point that gun violence can and does occur anywhere.

"People get shot in average spots like their homes, busy streets, cars and shopping malls. This idea that shootings only occur in ominous places just fits in with this scenario these people were in bad place or they brought this it upon themselves is wrong."

For many, the photo shoot was the first time they had ever returned to the scene of the crime. While returning to the location where they were shot proved to be cathartic for the survivors, some were initially hesitant but ultimately they were motivated to take part in this book to help others who've lived through gun violence trauma.

"The stories are dark and sad but the people are anything but. They are incredibly positive, heroic and courageous people that inspired me. I hope they will inspire others to have an honest dialogue about guns in America."

Shorr isn't out to make a political statement with her book or imply that nobody should own guns. She acknowledges that guns are part of the culture of America.

What she hopes is for is a more rational discussion about gun safety, which she thinks can be accomplished with responsible gun owners leading the way. Shorr points out that many of the survivors are themselves gun owners.

Megan Hobson was shot through the pelvis with an AK-47. Stopping to drop someone off, the car she was riding in was besieged by a hail of bullets. She lay on top of a toddler who was also in the car to protect the child. Hobson now walks with a limp. A gang initiation is believed to be the motive. Miami Gardens, Florida, 2012 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Megan was shot through the pelvis with an AK-47. Stopping to drop someone off, the car she was riding in was besieged by a hail of bullets. She lay on top of a toddler who was also in the car to protect the child. Megan now walks with a limp. A gang initiation is believed to be the motive. Miami Gardens, Florida, 2012 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

As he sat in his car talking with his ex-girlfriend, Ryan Carney was hit in the hand by a bullet. He lost one finger and is crippled in two others. (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

As he sat in his car talking with his ex-girlfriend, Ryan was hit in the hand by a bullet. He lost one finger and is crippled in two others. (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Dallas deputy sheriff Shyrica Wesley was in a Walmart parking lot when her husband shot her and then killed himself. Garland, Texas, 2007 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

Dallas deputy sheriff Shyrica was in a Walmart parking lot when her husband shot her and then killed himself. Garland, Texas, 2007 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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. Indianapolis, Indiana, 2014 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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. Indianapolis, Indiana, 2014 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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. Kenner, Louisiana, 1994 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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. Kenner, Louisiana, 1994 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

During his freshman year at the University of Washington, Scott worked part-time in a record store. Three robbers entered the store and one of them shouted something. As he turned to the man, the thief fired, hitting Hayashi in the abdomen. He is now the Episcopal Bishop of Utah. Tacoma, Washington, 1972 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

During his freshman year at the University of Washington, Scott worked part-time in a record store. Three robbers entered the store and one of them shouted something. As he turned to the man, the thief fired, hitting Hayashi in the abdomen. Tacoma, Washington, 1972 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

The first time Isiah was shot he was hit three times, once in the chest. A group of strangers had pulled up to his car and started firing. The second incident resulted from a dispute between two groups at a club. Johnson was leaving the club and saw some of the arguing men in a car. Telling his date to go back inside, he started to drive away and was shot in the arm. (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

The first time Isiah was shot, he was hit three times. A group of strangers had pulled up to his car and started firing. The second incident resulted from a dispute between two groups at a club. He was leaving the club and saw some arguing men in a car. Telling his date to go back inside, he started to drive away and was shot in the arm. (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

James lost the lower part of his leg after talking to a rowdy guest at a birthday party. The guest, a former military man, returned to the party, placed a shotgun on Armstrong’s calf and fired. He then turned the gun on Armstrong’s friend, killing him. When he put the gun to the head of a second friend, it jammed. Bozeman, Montana, 2013 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

James lost the lower part of his leg after talking to a rowdy guest at a birthday party. The guest, a former military man, returned to the party, placed a shotgun on James’s calf and fired. He then turned the gun on Armstrong’s friend, killing him. When he put the gun to the head of a second friend, it jammed. Bozeman, Montana, 2013 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

College student Chris was struck four times in his car when a neighborhood acquaintance was trying to rob him. Harris lost a leg from the shooting. New Castle, Delaware, 2015 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

College student Chris was struck four times in his car when a neighborhood acquaintance was trying to rob him. Harris lost a leg from the shooting. New Castle, Delaware, 2015 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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 Romero was shot in the neck. The shooter then drove off. Fort Collins, Colorado 2015 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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, Romero was shot in the neck. The shooter then drove off. Fort Collins, Colorado 2015 (Photo: Kathy Shorr)

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