'It Takes Us' Photo Project Shows Survivors Of Gun Violence (24 Pics)

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As the nation reels from yet another high-profile gun violence tragedy -- this time in  a movie theater in Louisiana -- photographer Joe Quint was, sadly, not surprised. 
"We’ve come to accept [gun violence] as tragic and awful and a part of life, but no one expects to be sitting in a movie theater and watching a comedy and someone stands up and starts shooting," Quint told The Huffington Post Friday. "That’s not normal."
Despite the abnormality of the experience, Americans "haven’t had the collective shift in consciousness yet to rise up with a unified voice and say ‘enough'," Quint said.

Akeal Christopher, 14, was shot and killed on his way home from a party 
in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. His mother Natasha is pictured hugging her other son. Bars, stores and bodegas were open at the time of the shooting but no one 
has stepped forward to identify the shooter.
Quint reached his breaking point about a year and a half ago, after the Isla Vista shooting near the University of California-Santa Barbara that left seven people, including the gunman, dead. Compelled to act, Quint started photographing gun violence survivors -- the people left behind by fatal shootings of loved ones -- for  his ongoing project, "It Takes Us." 
Its purpose is twofold: Help viewers personally connect to the stories of gun violence and ensure they don't forget and become complacent with the issue. He hopes the result will spur people to take action, and one day render his project might unneeded.
"I want people to see their story and the story of their family in the other [victims] so they get inspired to get off the sidelines and take action,” Quint said. “This isn’t photography for photography’s sake."
His timing couldn't be more apt. Less than 24 hours before the exhibition made its New York City debut in June, nine people were shot to death in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Quint said gun violence is commonly invoked as a problem for urban areas -- think Baltimore, Detroit or Chicago. But other, arguably more pervasive, instances of gun violence are everywhere. Instead of city shootings, they take the form of domestic violence, suicide or children having accidents with guns in the home.  
Myzinae and Whitney still regularly visit the corner where Akeal, Myzinae's 
boyfriend, was killed more than two years ago.
“It’s such a diverse story and it really cuts across all facets of society,” Quint said. “We can’t simply say ‘oh, that happens to those people in those neighborhoods. It happens in churches, it happens in neighborhoods, in movie theaters, in parks. It’s an epidemic."
The long-term impact on gun violence survivors is profound. For some, the Fourth of July is an especially difficult day, with fireworks prompting flashbacks of gunfire. One woman Quint photographed told him certain smells take her back to her post-shooting surgery. 
"Aside from whatever medical issues that they carry with them for the rest of their life, there’s a trauma that’s associated with it every time there’s another shooting, like last night,” Quint said. 
While Dre hasn't yet regained his ability to talk, walk, or feed himself more than six or seven forkfuls, he's doing a lot better since -- in his mother's words -- "they put his skull back on."
  • On New Year's Eve about 15 years ago, "celebratory gunfire" left a bullet in Joe's head. 
  • He's had more than 60 surgeries since and is confined to a wheelchair, 
  • with migraines and double vision.
  • "A sound came out of me that I don't ever want to hear again," says Eric, as he remembers identifying the body of his daughter, who was killed in a mass shooting at Northern Illinois University.
Alexandria's brother committed suicide with an unsecured firearm found at their father's house. Some time later, her stepmother -- distraught with guilt and grief -- also committed suicide.
The impact of gun violence stays with a survivor long after the initial healing. Antonius feels he was at his lowest point -- mentally, physically, and emotionally -- about seven months after his shooting, when he transitioned from being a victim back into society.
Rain or shine, Brenda visits the grave of her son every Sunday after church.
Herman gets comfort for his PTSD at his storefront church in Harlem. They are the rare moments of peace that he has since his adult son was shot and died in his arms.
After being shot multiple times over the years, Khayree doesn't like to go outside much anymore.
Since her shooting, Kimberly has worked to advocate for other survivors of domestic violence.
Alex, Tom's son, was killed in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting. Tom refers the killer as "it," not wishing to give him the notoriety he seeks.
Mone and Katroya's older brother Troy was shot during a robbery. He was hit once and killed.
  • Lucy's son, Jordan, was killed in Jacksonville, Florida, when a man felt threatened 
  • by his loud music.
In suburban Las Vegas, Darchel often goes into her daughter Brooklynn's room when she wants to feel connected. Brooklynn, who was taught gun safety from a young age, was killed by an unsecured gun at the home of a friend.
"And he just kept telling me to shut up, to shut the fuck up." - Clare
The shooter who burst into the bedroom of Judi's daughter Darien and started firing is still at large. The Portland, Maine, police department consider her murder a cold case.
Guns are a way of life in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Even though she was armed during her sexual assault, Erika chose not to use her weapon because she didn't want to turn one emergency into two.
Sheila says she'll never know why someone ambushed and killed her son, Pierre Paul Jean-Paul Jr., outside the Chinese takeout place that night.
"I felt a gun on my forehead, in between my eyes and it was heavy and it was cold." - Kim
"I was sitting outside crying one evening and Peter noticed. He disappeared for a few minutes, then he came back with leftover birthday candles and he put them in a little tea light cup with dirt and lit them up and came up to me and gave me a big hug, sat down next to me and started telling me that, '€œMom, please don'€™t cry. He is okay. He is, Nicholas is okay. He's an angel now. He can fly. He is, he's okay, you know.'"€
"I just, I need those answers. I need to know what happened to my sister. I'm telling you, I'll never believe she pulled that trigger." - Yvonne
Currently a student at Georgetown, Sarah is an activist partly because she comes from the Newtown, Connecticut, community. Her mother continues to teach at Sandy Hook.
Kari visits her son Bradley's grave at the Inter-tribal Burial Ground in Elgin, Oklahoma.


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