Gun Violence Awareness Day was marked at town hall where participants wore orange.
Wearing orange was inspired by the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago student killed by gunfire just days after participating in President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.
Hadiya’s birthday was June. The would have turned 26 on Friday.
Hadiya’s friends chose to wear orange on her birthday because hunters wear the color orange to protect themselves, and signal others, “don’t shoot.”
At a gathering in the town hall meeting room, Jonathan Perloe, Communications Director for CT Against Gun Violence, said the most ambitious piece of legislation since Sandy Hook bill in 2013 was before the senate, having passed in the House by a margin of nearly 2-1 last week with bi-partisan support and votes from all three House members who represent Greenwich.
The House approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 96-51.
Perloe said the Senate debate on the bill was under way.
The legislation, known as House Bill 6667, “An Act Addressing Gun Violence,” bars openly carrying firearms, among other changes.
“I hope you’ll let Senator Fazio know that you support the Governor’s gun bill,” Perloe added.
Perloe said many in Connecticut got involved in the gun safety movement after 26 children and educators were murdered at Sandy Hook School, but beyond that, more people were dying from gun violence than a decade ago.
He said the number of gun homicides in CT over the past two years was the highest in 25 years.
“Harm extends far beyond the victims to traumatize family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors and to a generation of students who have been terrorized by school shootings and the constancy of lockdown drills. And to entire communities, especially in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods that live under the constant threat of street level gun violence.”
Perloe said Connecticut had made progress and that CT had some of the strongest gun laws in the nation and one of the lowest rates of gun deaths.
“We have made it harder for dangerous people to buy or keep guns. We have further banned weapons that don’t belong in the hands of civilians,” Perloe said. “We have created powerful incentives for responsible gun ownership.”
Perloe said CAGV had been founded 30 years earlier by women from Greenwich whose first achievement was passing the state’s original assault weapons ban.
Perloe noted that members of Greenwich’s state delegation from both parties have long voted for legislation to strengthen the state’s gun laws, and that Senator Richard Blumenthal and Rep Himes were leaders in the push for stronger federal gun laws.
First Selectman Fred Camillo said, “This is not an anti-gun awareness day. This is not an anti-gun proclamation. Many of us – I’ll be the first to raise my hand myself – are a strong supporters of the Second Amendment. But we also believe in background checks. People may want to have a gun for self-protection, or for sporting. I think that’s a good thing as long as they go through the proper procedures, background checks and do so carefully.”
“I think the majority of Americans – and polls back this up – believe in background checks. They believe in closing loopholes and both safety and awareness.”
Camillo, in his proclamation, noted that as of early May there was an average of more than one mass shooting every day in the US.
Also, he said, more than 80% of child firearm suicides use a gun belonging to a family member and 2/3 of school shooters obtain the gun they use from the home or the home of a relative.
Abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm.
Beyond the loss of life, the emotional and physical pain suffered by survivors, and the profound impact on communities where gun violence is pervasive, gun violence has tremendous economic consequences costing CT taxpayers up to $90 million annually.
Selectwoman Lauren Rabin said, “We can decide we’re no longer willing to accept the violence. We can turn our pain into action and what we decide to do today can save a life – maybe your child’s, maybe your own.”
Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan said she was dumbfounded that in the year since the last proclamation the numbers had worsened, with more mass shootings and gun violence.
“Every time a tragedy is replayed we say we have much work to do, this madness cannot go on. Until they stop, we’ll keep saying this and keep working.”