On June 2, you might want to wear orange. A scarf, perhaps, or a Chicago Bears cap.
You will be honoring a girl, Hadiya Pendleton, whom Chicago lost too soon, a girl whose death four years ago shook a city.
Do you remember Hadiya? She 15 when she was killed by random gunfire in a South Side park. Just the week before, she had marched as a majorette in President Barack Obama’s second inauguration parade. Hours before she was killed, she had completed her high school final exams. She was a terrific kid.
Now Hadiya’s birthday, June 2, has been declared National Gun Violence Day, and people who are sick of the bloodshed — and believe that our nation’s gun laws are too lax — are encouraged to wear orange.
Orange, the campaign’s organizers remind us, is the color people wear to be safe in the woods during hunting season.
Wear Orange is a three-year-old campaign spearheaded by Everytown for Gun Safety, a national advocacy group that evolved from Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It emphasizes the power of social media. Wear your orange online. Share photos using the hashtag #WearOrange.
But don’t stop there. Nothing says you can’t wear a bit of orange throughout your day. Sometimes it’s good to stick out.
Wear Orange began as a tradition among Hadiya’s friends and family. Now it is supported by a coalition of more than 200 non-profit organizations. Among them are the Pitchfork Music Festival, Mothers Against Senseless Killings (MASK) and Spring Awakening, as well as celebrities such as Julianne Moore and Melissa Joan Hart.
The message is simple: A majority of Americans favor tighter controls on illegal guns, despite what the gun lobby would have you believe, and an overwhelming majority favor specific gun law reforms. Polls show that roughly nine in ten Americans favor expanded background checks for gun purchases, and eight in ten favor banning people on federal watchlists from buying guns.
The point, we must always stress, is not to take legal guns out of the hands of responsible, law-abiding citizens, but to keep illegal guns out of the hands of gang members and criminals.
To show support for different health and human rights campaigns, people wear particular colors at particular times—pink in October to show support in the fight against breast cancer, purple in May for the fight against lupus, teal in April for sexual assault awareness.
Gun violence is no less a public health or human rights issue. It is a crisis. On average, there are 12,000 gun homicides every year in the United States. There were 762 in Chicago last year.
We have lost so many Hadiya Pendletons. Wear orange.