I’ve found myself at times almost immune to the statistics. I began to question myself as I attempted to explain the importance of gun violence prevention, rattling off the numbers of deaths each year and failing to acknowledge that behind each number is not only a person dead or injured but also a family destroyed, a community traumatized, a workplace disrupted.
I will be the first to admit that it was the faces of twenty children and six educators who drew me to the gun violence prevention movement. I was admittedly late to the movement and, without a doubt, captivated by the tragic loss of small children who, for the most part, look like my son and daughter. I threw myself into the work to protect my children and then learned that those beautiful children from Sandy Hook Elementary School were not the typical gun violence victims. This doesn’t make their stories any less tragic or their loved ones’ loss any less significant. But the reality is that most the people who make up the statistics are young men of color and people using guns to commit suicide. Yet, we rarely hear about these deaths.
This project does not aim to undermine the significance of the high-profile incidents but rather to raise the general public’s awareness of the individuals who face the daily toll of gun violence and to follow the stories of the high-profile incidents after the cameras have left. We know that we will never be able to tell every story but we hope that by telling some of them we will begin to change the culture of violence in this country.
Jen and I and all of us at Marylander to Prevent Gun Violence are deeply indebted to the men, women and children who have trusted us to tell their stories. As I sit here writing this, I become emotional thinking about the countless women who have invited Jen and me into their homes and communities, literally and figuratively embracing us. We’ve been to their barbecues, birthday parties, vigils and life celebrations.
The statistics are important and necessary to this movement, but we can’t afford to forget the people behind the numbers. That is what this photo project, in its very modest scope, attempts to achieve.