Jeniffer was looking for protection when travelling with her three children. Carrie wanted to feel safe during “dangerous” stops at second-hand car dealers and off licences. Alana felt it was important to continue a family tradition she remembered as a source of bonding.
For all three, the solution was buying a handgun. These Texas women, among others, are featured in Concealed, She's Got A Gun, a portrait series by photographer Shelley Calton.
Calton, who lives in Texas, said each woman she featured had a "unique backstory that has motivated her decision to carry a concealed weapon." Most had gone through training to obtain their licenses.
"Some of the women have had incidents in their past, and others have been threatened and they now feel the need to own a handgun for self-defence," Calton wrote in the artist statement accompanying the series. "Many of the women that I photographed grew up immersed in the Texas gun culture, and to them, guns are a form of cultural expression deeply embedded in a family tradition and passed on from generation to generation."
Calton acknowledges the tragic toll gun violence in America has on women. But she hopes her "startling" images provide a "glimpse into a subculture of Texas women that will not become victims."
"In an ideal world, [we] would be free from fear, and no one would need a gun," she wrote. "But in a society where the overwhelming majority of sexual assault and domestic violence is against women, these images portray women in a role of taking self-protection into their own hands."
Ahead, the portraits and stories of the women featured in Calton's project.