Zachary Daniel Mallory

When I was 17 years old, I met a guy on a dating app. We started having a really good conversation, and things turned out to be intimate. I knew I was gay at a very young age, and at this time, I had already gone through a lot of things like bullying and harassment because of my sexuality.

I finally came across someone who seemed like they understood me and was interested in me. One night, we were talking, and I told him a very dark secret of mine. He went on social media and told everyone my secret. I was furious. He asked if he could come meet me where I was staying, and I of course said yes.

When he arrived, I could tell that he was going to do something that would change my life. He forced me onto the bed, held a gun towards my forehead and told me that I would have to do what he told me to do. He assaulted me with his gun, and then he left. I never heard from him again.

Arness

A survivor of domestic violence and someone who was threatened to be killed with a gun, my mother was shot by my father. She survived the attack because as the gun was pointed to her head, she knocked it away and was shot in her leg. My first cousin was also shot and killed by her husband, who then shot himself in 1999. My organization A-Way-Out Ministries, Inc. helps to end domestic violence.

Aubrey Williams

I began selling drugs as a freshman in high school. I was a talented athlete and gifted academically, yet I lacked wisdom and a healthy vision for myself. Additionally, like most inner city Black kids, I had some other voids to fill as well. Money seemed to be a quick fix for all of my problems.

I wound up getting kicked out of every high school I attended—five total. I was released from juvenile detention on my 18th birthday, and I was shot only a few months later over a money-related altercation. I lost a gallon and a half of blood, and I almost lost my life.

I took heed to the warning and second chance God had given me by changing my life. I got my GED and enrolled in community college, graduating with a 3.5 GPA. I then went on to Morehouse College to earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in African American Studies, graduating cum laude!

My personal mission has been and still is instilling the hope into urban Black males that we can be far more than just drug dealers, gangsters and destroyers of our community. We are builders, thinkers, scientists, doctors and anything else we choose to be. I seek to motivate others!

Jennifer Langston

I am a survivor. I have been impacted by gun violence my entire life, but in 2006 and 2014, the gun violence found me in my home.

In 2006, two armed men broke into my house, held me hostage and injured my roommate by gun. I lost my sense of security in the world after this tragic incident, but I had no idea that I could lose even more from further gun violence.

In 2014, I again survived the unthinkable. My boyfriend, who was suffering from suicidal ideation, bought a gun without my knowledge. We had discussed not owning firearms because of his suicidal thoughts, but his struggle become too overwhelming. In the early hours of April 1, my boyfriend’s suicidal tendencies turned homicidal, and I became his target. He held me hostage and then shot me in the chest.

Gun violence is not something I get over; it is what I have learned to live with. The impact of gun violence is enormous, and I struggle every day to feel safe in a world plagued by gun violence. As a two-time survivor of gun violence, I share my story to bring awareness to the real impact of gun violence in our society.

David Cary Hart

My life is forever changed.

I was a hard-charging, successful CEO of a complex organization that included four nonprofit entities and one for-profit company. I had a 30-year relationship with my partner.

Today I could not work as a Walmart greeter due to acute PTSD. I am alone.

The difference between then and now is having been ambushed and shot point-blank in my back, at the direction of an employee, to put the brakes on an internal audit. She succeeded.

In the competition between a .45 caliber bullet and human tissue, the bullet always wins. Proof that two objects cannot exist in the same place at the same time.

Once a bullet enters a human body, it tends to rattle around until it runs out of inertia. In my case, my right hip was destroyed, requiring a total hip replacement.

I walk just fine. It’s my mental health that continues to get worse in spite of fairly continuous treatment and my consumption of medications.

My one suicide attempt resulted in a four-week stay in a psych ward. Before my partner died, I worked very hard at destroying our relationship.

No one has ever been brought to justice. Presumably my shooter was a prohibited carrier.

Chris Breseman

On May 3, 2003, an ex-girlfriend and her two friends tried to murder me. They took 27 shots at me, hitting me once in my abdomen. It took 28 major life-saving surgeries to survive. In the first surgery, I died three times and took 17 pints of blood. I lost my career in the U.S. Air Force and am now a 100 percent disabled USAF Veteran with serious PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Audrey Boyd

Being from Louisville, Kentucky, I was never really sheltered from violence. It seemed as if every day, multiple times a day, the news was broadcasting another person being shot and killed. Never did I think I would be one of those people.

On March 16, 2016, my life would change forever. Around 11 or 11:30 p.m., while I was standing in my living room, talking with my boyfriend (who was on the couch), we heard what we thought were fireworks. As smoke filled the dark room, we realized what was happening. Two men had pulled up in front of our building and aimed to kill! There were bullets flying all around our front room, and as my boyfriend scurried across the floor, I was frozen with fear. As I came to, I felt this burning sensation in my left arm, but didn’t realize I had been shot! I was shot in my left arm and left breast with a 9mm bullet. To this day we don’t know why, or who they thought lived there, but I am grateful to be alive and tell my story. Police found 18 to 20 shell casings in the parking lot.

Andrea C.

In late April 2020, my son, age 23 now, was shot in his home. He had met a local young lady on Facebook. They’d exchanged conversations, and he invited her over to have drinks. She arrived solo, but a few minutes after being inside his home, she opened the door to a masked man. It was her boyfriend, who had driven her to my son’s house with the intention to rob him for the unemployment money that was on his bank card. But my son didn’t receive it, like most people in our state.

The young woman texted her boyfriend, who was outside waiting. He was asking, in text messages, if my son was armed. My son went into the kitchen, and the young woman opened the door to allow her boyfriend to enter the home. The man pistol-whipped my son. They fought and exchanged words. All for $100 in cash and a debit card with no cash on it. They shot him and left him. He crawled to his phone to call me.

Brother Taj

In May 2020, I was attacked while exiting my car in the late evening, in front of my apartment. I was shot five times by an unknown assailant, whom I didn’t see. The first shot entered and shattered my eye socket, the other four hitting my arms and shoulders and shattering my elbow. My carotid artery was damaged, and after the paramedics moved me to the ambulance, a blood clot loosened and went to my brain. This caused me to have a stroke, which, in turn, caused me to lose all feeling in my left hand, arm and leg.

Despite my injuries, I survived and left the hospital after only two months. I went back to work as prison reentry advocate and case manager, and in July, I welcomed the birth of my son.

I consider myself a walking miracle, and it is clear to me that my time was not up because I have plenty of good work to still do.

Julie Chevalier

At 2:18 a.m. on May 19, 2019, I received a call that no mother ever wants to receive. My 21-year-old son, Kyle, had been shot. Since, that phone call and those words replay in my mind unwillingly.

Kyle attended a party. He stepped out of a vehicle and was there less than three minutes when a car drove by and began shooting. Kyle was hit in his neck and stomach, instantly paralyzing his right arm.

More than the physical toll this has taken, the psychological factors have been much worse on him, myself, my husband and my other children. We are more than lucky that he survived. Not a day goes by that I don’t recount some part of that night.

Gun violence has become so commonplace in the United States. I support stricter gun laws. The young man that shot Kyle owned an illegal 9-millimeter gun that ended up shooting five people in different instances.