by Hena Hussain ‘20
With incidents of gun violence increasing, people have started to become more involved in activism to end such occurrences. One of these movements that many have participated in is Wear Orange for Gun Safety, which was started after the death of 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton in 2013 when she was fatally shot. Every year, Wear Orange events bring together communities to advocate for gun safety, and are urged to wear the color orange, the color chosen for the movement by Pendleton’s friends.
My friend and I attended one of these events in Columbia at Harper’s Choice Village Center on June 8th. The event was organized by members of the community and supported by organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, both of which advocate for the ending of gun violence. Several other organizations were also present, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as Woo Forever, an organization that promotes love and acts of kindness. Woo Forever had people write on chalkboards what love means to them to then post on social media.
“It’s important for me to promote better love in communities, and stand up for love against gun violence,” said Woo Forever founder Charmaine Flanagan when we asked why she attended the event.
Howard County organizations were also present at the event, such as the Howard County Police Department and the Howard County Health Department, which provided free training on dealing with opioid overdoses and provided kits that would aid in situations of drug overdose. Other tables provided education on all aspects of gun violence, which included suicide-related incidents and domestic abuse.
Members of the local and federal government spoke at the event, one of which was Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s third congressional district. When we asked why he attended the event, he said “I’m really here to pay tribute to ordinary citizens who have the conviction to push against gun violence.” He emphasized this in his speech, discussing how grassroots efforts against gun violence have allowed for the passage of gun control legislation and increased awareness on the issue.
The event also provided more light-hearted activities, such as drawing with sidewalk chalk for kids and a booth to take pictures with friends, making it truly a community event that was not just meant for activists and interest groups, but for families, teachers, and young people concerned by the presence of gun violence who have dedication to the cause.