On Friday, gun control activists launched a campaign to “wear orange” during the weekend around the third annual Gun Violence Awareness Day, sponsored by the group Everytown for Gun Safety. The National Rifle Association (NRA) responded with its own gun safety declaration, perfectly subverting the campaign.
Everytown for Gun Safety asked supporters to wear orange on Friday, which it designated National Gun Violence Awareness Day. “Tomorrow is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and millions of Americans will Wear Orange — a color so loud it can’t be ignored,” the group tweeted.
Tomorrow is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and millions of Americans will #WearOrange – a color so loud it can't be ignored. Share a pic with your orange gear and use the hashtag #WearOrange! 🍊🧡https://t.co/aNOztH1MCL pic.twitter.com/IsZth1fT4p
— Everytown (@Everytown) June 1, 2018
According to the campaign’s website, WearOrange.com, Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore orange in her honor after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15. Pendleton lost her life only one week after performing at President Barack Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013.
Two suspects, 18-year-old Michael Ward and 20-year-old Kenneth Williams, were arrested an indicted with first degree murder and other charges. They told police Pendleton was not the intended target, but her group was mistaken for members of a rival gang. Like so many brutally murdered by MS-13, Pendleton was a tragic victim of gang violence.
President Obama mentioned Pendleton’s death in his 2013 State of the Union Address, and invited Pendleton’s parents as guests. Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, the girl’s mother, went onstage but did not speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Everytown for Gun Safety designated June 2, Pendleton’s birthday, as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in 2015. This year, however, the day has extended into “Wear Orange Weekend,” starting Friday.
Kim Kardashian West has partnered with Everytown during past events and blogged about her stance in 2017. She insisted “I’m not against guns and I’m not against people owning guns,” but she did push for “stricter gun control laws.” She explained her stance was influenced by her being robbed at gunpoint in Paris in October 2016.
Kardashian West has not yet tweeted about “Wear Orange Weekend,” but former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has. “Too many American children will never have the opportunity to realize their dreams because their lives were cut short by a bullet,” Clinton tweeted. “Our kids deserve to live free from the threat of gun violence.”
Too many American children will never have the opportunity to realize their dreams because their lives were cut short by a bullet. Our kids deserve to live free from the threat of gun violence. #WearOrange @Everytown @MomsDemand pic.twitter.com/SjacOKPgVv
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 1, 2018
Former president Barack Obama also championed the campaign. “This National Gun Violence Awareness Day, show your commitment to keeping our kids safe from gun violence,” Obama tweeted. “Then, for everyone we’ve lost, take action to change our leadership and our laws until they reflect that commitment – no matter how long it takes.”
This National Gun Violence Awareness Day, show your commitment to keeping our kids safe from gun violence. Then, for everyone we’ve lost, take action to change our leadership and our laws until they reflect that commitment – no matter how long it takes. https://t.co/lraIwlQAgl
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 1, 2018
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted a picture of himself wearing an orange tie, in solidarity.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) June 1, 2018
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) also joined in.
— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) June 1, 2018
As did CNN contributor Ana Navarro.
Today begins #WearOrange weekend to raise awareness about gun violence. I’ll be wearing orange & speaking at @MomsDemand action event tmrw in Miami to support all the grieving families, specially my cousin, MJ Wright, who lost her son, Jerry, to gun violence at #Pulse shooting.🧡 pic.twitter.com/2qmt0KwPGP
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) June 1, 2018
The National Rifle Association had a perfect response, however. “While Everytown for Gun Safety has devoted close to no resources to making citizens safer, the NRA continues to be the world’s leading gun safety organization since 1871,” the group tweeted. “Send us pics in your orange hunting and NRA gear to be featured.”
🔶 NRA SOCIAL GOING ORANGE: While Everytown for Gun Safety has devoted close to no resources to making citizens safer, the NRA continues to be the world's leading gun safety organization since 1871. 📸 Send us pics in your orange hunting and NRA gear to be featured. #wearorange pic.twitter.com/16cE7srlZo
— NRA (@NRA) June 1, 2018
Ironically, the NRA was correct to say “Orange has always been ours.” The “Wear Orange” campaign was inspired by the orange vests worn by hunters to direct attention and make sure other hunters do not shoot them.
The NRA has trained Americans on gun safety for more than one hundred years. The school shooting epidemic — tragic as it is — should not be attributed merely to the availability of guns. After all, guns were in schools thirty years ago, and school shootings were unheard of. These tragedies are a human problem, with evil as the root cause, not a gun problem.
The “Wear Orange” campaign aimed to subvert the hunter safety protocol (dating back to 1960 to Frank Woolner, who advised wearing orange in an article for Field & Stream Magazine), but the history of wearing blaze orange emphatically began with hunters, those who use firearms for food and recreation.
The NRA rightly pointed out that gun control activists are trying to subvert orange, a color long associated with proper gun use and gun safety.
Americans should remember and lament the tragic death of Hadiya Pendleton, and support responses to gang violence. They should push back against the idea that gun control is the one proper and effective response to such tragedies, however. The NRA presents an alternate way — educating gun owners about safety, and training them to defend their fellow citizens from shooters.