I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day. However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day: National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.
Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware. Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.
On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.
Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.
In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.
According to the Everytown website:
“In 2021, the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 4, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 5-6, which will feature virtual events across the nation. From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”
Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!
In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …
- The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
- The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
- The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
- 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
- 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
- Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
- On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.
Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem. Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two. NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church. And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.
The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies. No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.
To the gun nuts, I say this: NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc. You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak. You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery. Period. My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.
No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators. So far this year 18,429 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 43,558 people were killed by guns in the U.S. So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.
So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.