What is your reaction when you hear the words gun violence awareness, or gun safety, or gun sense? It is important to understand that none of these has anything to do with gun control, or taking away guns or denying Second Amendment rights.
What they have to do with is reminding people that gun violence is at a tragic rate in the United States, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of the importance of universal background checks, of making untraceable “ghost guns” illegal, and of storing guns unloaded and locked.
Here are facts to consider. There have been 231 mass shootings in the United States in 2021. Over 4.5 million children live in a household with a loaded, unlocked gun. According to the Deschutes County Suicide Data Report, youth suicides in Deschutes County have almost doubled from 2000-17, and 56% of all suicides were accomplished with a gun. Federal, state and local governments are spending an average of $34.8 million EACH DAY to deal with the aftermath of gun violence. Gun violence-related deaths in 2020 will likely exceed 40,000, a rate of 12.3 gun deaths per 100,000 people. This translates to the highest rate of gun deaths in the last two decades. It is estimated that there was a 64% increase in gun sales in 2020 over 2019.
What can you do?
Put aside politics and understand that this is a safety issue for all communities. Unfortunately, the word “control” is thrown about by politicians, the media, and the NRA. But gun sense is not gun control. Most gun owners are very responsible and understand the importance of safe storage. But children are curious, and in 2021, there have been 93 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 36 deaths and 62 injuries nationally. I cannot think of anything more tragic.
Wear orange. June 4 is Gun Violence Awareness Day, and the following weekend is known as Wear Orange. It is a time when gun violence prevention supporters and advocates wear orange to honor the victims of gun violence and show support for the gun safety movement. This national movement began in 2013 when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago just one week after she performed at President Obama’s second 93 inauguration. Orange was her favorite color, and it is the color hunters wear to protect themselves from gunfire. I am grateful to the Deschutes County commissioners and Bend City Council who endorsed Gun Violence Awareness Day proclamations. Wear orange this weekend.
Go to everytown.org for research and more facts. Everytown Research and Policy “conducts independent, methodically rigorous research, supports evidence-based policies, and communicates this knowledge to the public.”
Contact your United States legislators and urge their support for universal background checks.
Join Moms Demand Action Oregon on Facebook. Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
If you own guns, store them locked and unloaded. There are methods of safe storage that still allow for quick access if necessary.
Taking a few extra seconds is worth a child’s life, or the life of someone who might impulsively consider suicide.
Recognize the role of guns in suicides. Over the past decade, the US firearm suicide rate has increased by 13 %. This trend has been of particular concern for children and teens, whose firearm suicide rate has increased by 59 % over the past ten years, and for veterans, who have a firearm suicide rate 1.5 times higher than non-veteran adults.
Above all, please remember that the definitions for the words safety, sense and awareness are exactly what they say they are. Let’s keep our families and loved ones safe by being aware and using good sense in order to prevent gun violence.