Orange gets attention. It is the color hunters wear on vests and knit caps so they’ll be seen. Or, as one of Hadiya Pendleton’s friends explained, “Hunters wear bright colors so that they are not targets.” Yep. We are at a point where young people in Chicago need to behave defensively while they walk to school, come back from grabbing a slice of pizza, seek shelter from the rain so that they won’t be shot to death.
Oh, but that’s Chicago. Oh, but that’s Camden. Oh, but that’s Detroit. Oh, but that’s Baltimore. Oh, but that’s Oakland. Oh, but that’s not my home.
But if you switch it up, it sounds more like: Not Chicago! That is 7-year old Samyra. Not Paterson! That is 14-year old Nazerah. Not Hilliard! That is 10-year old Colin. Not Laplace! That is 5-year old Haley. But still, we find a way to say: that’s not my child.
So, because the public responds more passionately to certain types of gun violence, parents, family, friends, and communities around the country cry out in pain in an attempt to beat the constant need for ever more shocking and titillating news.
We are Virginia Tech! We are Newtown! We are Isla Vista! We are Kalamazoo! We are Charleston! We are Aurora! We are Piketon! We are Appling! We are Spring! We are Moultrie! We are San Bernadino! We are Montclair! We are Oak Creek! We are Binghamton! We are Littleton! And on and on and on.
On June 2nd scores of gun violence prevention groups will partner to raise awareness by asking you to #WearOrange. It is a day to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost. And it is a day to renew and refresh commitments to work actively to prevent more lives lost. The question is how to be as effective as possible in the most convenient way possible.
Easy Actions that anyone can do:
Educate yourself. Find vetted sources with citations. Watch how grief and inspiration becomes action. Learn about what agencies like the CDC would like to focus on. Or the American Academy of Pediatrics feels is most important. Read about how domestic violence aggravates gun violence around the USA. Expose yourself to viewpoints that question and dispute myths about guns in homes and their use. Even MTV is on board with solid facts about gun violence in the United States. Read this HuffPo piece by Josh Horwitz, of CSGV; he details the importance of a Gun Violence Restraining Order.
Contact your lawmakers. States have a lot of power to regulate illegal firearms and encourage safe use and storage of firearms. Statistics show that state laws can have a huge impact on safe handling, preventing suicides, and overall gun violence within their borders. However, the greatest impact can and will be federal laws. The flow of firearms from states with lax gun laws to states with tougher gun laws is lucrative business and difficult to control. You can find your Congressional Reps here. You can find your US Senators here. Need to figure out who your State Legislators are? Try here! Some things to mention are below.
- Universal Background Checks are the most obvious and seemingly simple ask from our elected officials. Here is a quick form to get that idea across by phone. Even if your Representative or Senator is in favor of UBCs, give them a call to remind them that their constituents value responsible gun reform.
- Federal Trafficking Laws must be made stronger. Not only do states with weak gun laws enable guns to be moved between states, but they also affect gun violence in countries to our south. That is unconscionable.
- Safe Storage and Handling is a must. The easiest type of gun violence to end, and end completely, is the negligent shootings involving children. The onus MUST be on adults to remove access to firearms from children. Child Access Prevention laws (CAP laws) in states and nationally must be clear and strong.
Stay Aware. There are so many more areas of concern: Repealing PLCAA. Ensuring that guns are removed from domestic violence situations. While handguns make up about a third of guns in the USA, they are involved in around 80% of firearm murders. Handgun regulation is a must to curb all forms of gun violence, including suicides. Instituting a Gun Violence Restraining Order, like what has recently passed in California, will give families an option when they fear for a loved one’s safety. Or their own.
Speak Up! Ask about guns in the home and if children have access to them. The BeSmart program is a solid start, and it includes important concerns about teen suicide. The ASK campaign is also user-friendly and direct. Share your experience calling or writing to legislators to encourage others to be vocal as well. Vote for candidates who commit to working for strong gun reform.
I know this is a lot. It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. It’s enough to make a reasonable person throw up her hands and walk away with a disheartened shrug. Please don’t.
Think of those who feel compelled to immerse themselves in this movement because of and despite their personal loss and pain and terror that it will happen again. Families and friends respond in myriad ways; they choose the best and most healing and reasonable course for themselves.
Wear Orange on June 2nd. Begin, reignite, continue your journey on this issue. But make sure to act however you are able to do so every day.