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National Gun Violence Awareness Day

On January 29, 2013, a week after she had taken part in Barack Obama's second inaugural parade, Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15. In response to this tragedy, her friends wore orange and encouraged others to also do so, in an effort to raise awareness about gun violence and to fight for a future that is free of it. They first displayed their orange colors on June 2, 2015, on what would have been Hadiya's 18th birthday. National Gun Violence Awareness Day was born.

National Gun Violence Day, a nationwide movement that shows collective power, honors the lives lost on account of gun violence and those wounded by it. After it got its start, orange became the color associated with the wider movement fighting for gun violence prevention. This was fitting, as Erica Ford's organization Life Camp, Inc. had previously been behind making orange a color of peace. Although the day was originally observed on the birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, it is now held on the first Friday of June. The weekend is known as Wear Orange Weekend. Everytown for Gun Safety sponsors the day, as do other community organizations.

In 2019, over 850 events took place across the United States on the day, including rallies, barbecues, marches, picnics, resource fairs, and youth talent showcases. Over 300 buildings were lit orange in all states across the country, including One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building, and over 200,000 people posted about the day on social media. Cultural influencers, elected officials, companies, non-profit organizations, and faith groups have taken part in the day, and governors, legislatures, and mayors throughout the nation have made proclamations for it.

Over 100 people are killed with guns in the United States each day, and another 200 are shot and wounded. Almost two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides and the risk of suicide is three times higher for those who have access to guns. One-third of gun deaths are homicides. The United States has a homicide rate about 25 times higher than other high-income countries. Gun homicides overwhelmingly take place in cities, particularly in racially segregated neighborhoods where poverty is high. Black Americans are ten times more likely to die of gun homicide than white Americans.

Motor vehicle crashes and guns are the leading causes of death for children and teens in the United States. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely to die by gun homicide than their white counterparts. Each month in the United States, more than 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner. In total, about six out of ten American adults have experienced gun violence or know someone who has experienced it. These stark figures illustrate the importance of a movement dedicated to raising awareness about gun violence and fighting to eradicate it.

How to Observe

The most appropriate way to spend the day is to wear orange in solidarity with others raising awareness about gun violence and fighting to eradicate it. Check on the day's website to see if there is a National Gun Violence Awareness Day event taking place near you. You could go online to create your own #WearOrange image to share on social media and to purchase Wear Orange merchandise. You could also learn more about gun violence in America by picking up a book or by exploring the Everytown for Gun Safety website.

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