By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Last week, people around the nation donned orange to raise awareness of gun violence.
The Wear Orange campaign began several years ago after the death of Hadiya Pendleton, who at 15-years-old was shot and killed in Chicago. Pendleton’s tragic death has become the face of a movement that hopes to change gun policy in America.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, 96 Americans are killed by a gun every single day. On top of those isolated incidents, there’s also been a rise in mass shootings on school grounds. There have been 46 school shootings this year and a total of 316 school shootings since 2013.
Leslie Harris is a group leader for Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. She joined soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. At the time, she had been living in Chicago.
“Once I started seeing gun violence I felt like I had to do something about it,” she said.
Her group helped organize the kickoff rally, survivor vigil and community event last weekend in Milwaukee. The events addressed the fact that gun violence is a public issue, while also giving the community an opportunity to come together.
In addition to organizing events, Moms Demand Action works hard to promote and advocate for more common-sense laws when it comes to gun safety.
“One thing we know that is effective is background checks,” Harris said.
In many states, a public gun sale requires a background check before the transaction is approved, however, a private sale does not. While she admitted this step doesn’t stop a shooting, it can help prevent one and provide a barrier between an unstable person and a gun.
Another law they’d like established is the red flag law, which states that a judge can step in and remove the guns if there is cause for reasonable alarm like in a situation involving domestic violence.
Wisconsin Anti Violence Efforts (WAVE), established in the 1990s, is one of the leading advocates for these changes in the state.
Jeri Bonavia, the executive director of WAVE said polling data suggested that gun owners are supportive of these common-sense laws. According to her, gun owners understand these laws don’t take away their guns but instead prohibit needless deaths.
“It is actually responsible,” she said.
Bonavia said lawmakers are often swayed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) which favors the gun industry over gun owners.
A background check could show that a person has a history of violence, and instead of getting a gun they could receive the care they need.
In addition to raising awareness of Wisconsin’s gun policy, WAVE and Moms Demand Action are also giving a voice to the victims and survivors of gun violence.
“People are saying this isn’t okay, they don’t want to live in these situations,” Harris said.
To learn more about how to prevent future incidents of gun violence or more data go to wearorange.org or everytownresearch.com. Or text “ready” to 64433 to join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.