“The orange wave” against armed violence in the US

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo credit: Alex Radelich / Unsplash

The figures for the number of victims of firearms in the United States are tragic, devastating and unacceptable:

  • Firearms are the leading cause of death among American children and adolescents.
  • One in 10 deaths by firearms corresponds to children under 19 years of age.
  • Four out of 10 adults in the United States live in a home where there is at least one firearm.
  • About half of firearms deaths are suicides, followed by murders. Only a minor amount are accidents.
  • About 433 million firearms are in the hands of US civilians.
  • Only 6 million of the total guns owned by adults have been legally registered, according to the Pew Research Center.

The dramatic statistics reflect the reality of a perfect storm in the society of the United States: a disproportionate number of firearms, the politics of debate over common sense regulations, the insufficiency and inequity in mental health services and a perverse influence of organizations in favor of licentiousness in the acquisition and possession of firearms.

Only in the United States is there a preventable and deadly epidemic: gun violence and student massacres.

Many of us believed that the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 would be the watershed moment that would change the national debate on gun control. We were wrong. The hemorrhaging of deaths continues and the national ban on AR-15 style assault rifles has yet to be reinstated.

But as the United States celebrates National Gun Violence Awareness Month in June, it’s not all bad news.

An increasing number of states in the country have approved the so-called “Red Flags Laws”, which allow family members, law enforcement officers and others to request in court the temporary removal of firearms from people who pose a risk to themselves and to others.

Some of those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Faced with insufficient progress in Congress, the states are setting the example. Those politicians who claim that no legislation will be able to prevent each and every massacre with firearms are not doing their job.

Thousands and thousands of people dress in orange this month, in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl with a promising future who was killed with a firearm in Chicago in 2013, just a week after participating in the inaugural parade of then President Barack Obama.

We cannot allow the death of Hadiya or the angels of Sandy Hook or the youth of Parkland and thousands upon thousands more to be in vain. Let’s wear the color orange today, this month and until the November 2024 election day, join local groups and raise our voices, because a national outcry is unstoppable.