Wear Orange- June 2nd

by Joan Peterson

Wear OrangeIn one week , on June 2nd, people all over the country will participate in Wear Orange Day- national day of awareness for gun violence prevention. There will activities such as walks, proclamations by Mayors, gatherings of participants wearing orange, posting of selfies and photos on social media, turning city structures orange and generally remembering victims of gun violence.

The day was started by friends and family of 15 year old Hadiye Pendleton, a young Chicago girl who was shot on the street when she became the innocent victim of bullets flying in her neighborhood. One week before her shooting, Hadiye had been with her school’s band playing at President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration.

Hadiye was one of about 90 Americans who were shot that day. Since she was killed, more than 3 years have passed leaving another 100,000 dead and more than 200,000 injured. Yes. That’s true. If these deaths were reported on the nightly news like the deaths of our military members who were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were, the public would be outraged. Does the public know that more people have died from gunshot injuries since 1968 in America than all Americans have died in wars since the Revolutionary War?

Actually the public is outraged but our leaders are afraid to stand up to the corporate gun lobby and do something that makes common sense to stop the shootings. How can one not be outraged by what is happening daily in our homes, on our streets, in our public places, at gun ranges, in cars, schools, workplaces, military bases and anywhere else where people gather? Take these for example:

In Minneapolis, shootings have increased dramatically in the North side neighborhoods. From this article:

In roughly the first five months of the year, 123 people have been shot in Minneapolis — 97 of them on the North Side — compared with 65 during the same period last year. At the current pace, north Minneapolis will eclipse last year’s total of gunshot victims by late September. Aggravated assaults, which include shootings and are considered a key measure of a city’s safety, are up 14 percent across Minneapolis.

Lots of talk in the article about solutions including working with the youth, more police presence, concern about increased gang presence and some mention of easy access to guns:

Much of the violence, they say, stems from the increasingly easy access to guns on the streets and young people’s willingness to use them in response to insults exchanged on social media and in online music videos.

“It is ridiculous,” said Council President Barbara Johnson, adding that she’d heard from constituents of her North Side ward complaining of having their houses shot up. “We’ve got neighborhoods being held hostage by these jerks.”

Indeed. Neighborhoods held hostage by youth with guns. Are we at war? And, of course, one of the solutions would be to pass stronger laws to regulate how guns get into the hands of the hostage takers. But in Minnesota a state pre-emption law prohibits cities from passing laws stricter than state laws. More from the article:

Council Member Cam Gordon, who is on the Public Safety committee, said that some of the blame rested with a three-decade-old state law that stripped cities of the power to regulate firearms and ammunition within their limits, except regulations targeting the “discharge of firearms.”

“I believe it is time for the Legislature to restore that authority and to give us more flexibility in determining how best to register and regulate handguns in Minneapolis,” Gordon wrote in a blog post addressing the problem.

In other words, we can do something about this but our leaders won’t let us.

Sigh.

Other incidents that should make us all go out to wear orange on June 2nd are below:

A 7 year old girl was shot and killed when a felon ( prohibited from owning guns) gave a 3 year old a rifle while the family was target shooting and the 3 year old, not nearly old enough or responsible enough to be handling a gun, shot the gun. The bullet hit the 7 year old, killing her. People have been arrested.

Sigh.

A Texas gun company made a gun with a “Hello Kitty” coating on it that makes it look like a toy. From the article:

 “We do have some critics that think we shouldn’t make a gun look like a toy, but I disagree. Gun safety should be taught in schools and should be taught by families,” says Lemley. He says that taking the mystery out of guns can make for a safer society.

Children are dying every day from “accidental” gun discharges. Apparently these folks don’t get into what happens with their wares once they leave their shop.

Sigh.

Or there’s this one, as just one of many other examples I could provide here but don’t have the space to do: A gun left in a cabinet was found by a teen ager who discharged the gun, killing a friend:

The Glock had been left in a kitchen cabinet, loaded and chambered. Brooklynn’s friend accessed the gun while they were in the kitchen. There were no charges in Brooklynn’s death. It was ruled an accident.

This kind of tragedy is preventable, and it starts with the responsibility of adults. Our home state of Nevada is among 14 with child-access prevention laws that impose a weaker standard for criminal liability. Brooklynn’s death by an unsecured gun, and the complete failure of the justice system, was the catalyst for my husband and I to create the Brooklynn Mae Mohler Foundation. Our goal is to educate others, with the hope of preventing these senseless tragedies from affecting more families. No parent should ever have to endure this daily agony.

The mother of the victim wrote this heart wrenching article for Vogue which is doing a series of very personal articles about gun violence leading up to Wear Orange day. There is something to do about these avoidable and horrific gun deaths. ASK if there are unlocked, loaded guns in the homes where your children play. It’s a simple solution requiring no law changes and it changes the conversation about the risks of guns in homes. The ASK campaign can and does save lives.

I don’t think I have to write more do I? Too many innocent Americans die every day from a gun epidemic that should have the attention of our law makers. Our neighborhoods and homes are littered with dead bodies and people injured by bullets who will suffer life-long affects from the bullet wounds.

This is a public health and safety epidemic of epic proportion left ignored by the people who can do something about it. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and the folks who believe them, we are doing little or nothing to prevent 90 Americans a day from dying from gun suicides, homicides and “accidental” gun deaths.That is why wearing orange and doing so nation-wide to call attention to the epidemic is not only important but necessary.

I will be wearing orange on June 2nd. Will you?

We’ve had #Enough and know that we can do better than sitting back, shrugging our shoulders and saying nothing can be done. That is not true. There are many solutions to the problem of gun violence. It starts with you. And then your friends and family. And then your city, your state and the nation. Join us.

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