Wear Orange Weekend Raises Awareness of Gun Violence in Arizona

By Camila Pedrosa

June 10, 2022

The event came one week ahead of the nationwide March For Our Lives, with local organizations pledging their support for the Wear Orange movement.

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action called for an end to gun violence during their eighth annual awareness weekend, which was punctuated by 14 mass shootings—including two in Arizona—that killed a total of 17 people.

“It feels a little bit like Groundhog Day sometimes. We do this over and over and over again,” State Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, said at a Wear Orange event on June 4. “I know people question, ‘Where are we getting?’ We are making progress every time we do this.”

Longdon is no stranger to gun violence. In 2004, she was hit by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. Since that time, Longdon has been a fierce advocate for gun reform, championing gun control legislation at the Capitol and even testifying before US Congress to share her story.

A Nationwide Movement

Wear Orange, celebrated on the first weekend of June, began in 2015 in honor of a 15-year-old Chicago girl who was shot and killed in 2013. Since then, the movement has grown to have hundreds of prominent figures and organizations nationwide supporting it annually.

In Phoenix, events kicked off on June 3, with the Phoenix Mercury basketball team observing National Gun Violence Awareness Day during their game against the Connecticut Suns.

Fans were encouraged to wear orange to the game to support the movement and messages throughout the Footprint Center showed how to join the fight against gun violence.

As an added surprise, the team presented the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action with a $10,000 donation.

Support for Veterans

On June 4, Moms Demand Action Phoenix held a community event in partnership with Soldier’s Best Friend, a local organization aimed at pairing service dogs or emotional support dogs with veterans who need them.

Survivors of gun violence shared their stories and encouraged supporters to take action, and participants were given the opportunity to learn about suicide prevention, sign up for a blood drive, create free care packages for veterans and their service dogs in the Soldier’s Best Friend program, and more.

This year’s Wear Orange Weekend fell one week before the second-ever March for Our Lives, which was originally held in 2018 following the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people. Organizers announced the march on May 25, the day after the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 21 people at an elementary school.

March for Our Lives events will be held on June 11 in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Payson, Prescott, Sedona, and Tucson. Check the organization’s website for locations and times. 

“Will you take time to make a few more phone calls?” Longdon said at the June 4 event. “Will you find the courage to go out and knock on a door and talk to someone about gun violence? … That’s what it’s going to take.”

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