By Hannah Walter, AWARE® Intern
June 2nd was National Gun Violence Awareness Day. To honor the lives lost due to gun violence, as well as show our support for more gun control, we wear orange. According to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an organization founded by the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, orange is the color for gun safety because it “symbolizes the value of human life. Hunters wear orange in the woods to protect themselves and others.” We also wear orange in February for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The commonality in color is more than just a coincidence. In 2011, nearly two-thirds of women killed with guns were killed by their intimate partners. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) found that when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the likelihood of a homicide goes up 500%. Guns are by far the most common weapon used in domestic violence incidents.
Weak gun laws, with their plethora of loopholes, have failed women in abusive relationships and their families again and again. It seems that almost every day in America, we hear about shootings or women who have been murdered by their abusers. We have become desensitized to these events. And every time, the country seems to get further and further away from instituting reasonable and responsible gun safety laws. While federal laws are in place that restrict a person convicted of domestic violence to have a gun, there are so many ways around the system, such as the gun show loophole and the lack of background checks, which make it easy for an abuser to get their hands on the weapon. There is also the so-called “boyfriend loophole.” Spouses, people who were or are living together, or people who had a child together count as intimate partners who must get rid of their guns after a DV conviction, but dating partners do not count in that category. Some states have created laws that go further to protect those that have or are currently experiencing domestic abuse, but some is not enough. It seems nonsensical that these laws advocating for gun safety and that protect men and women in abusive relationships do not exist yet on a federal level. More laws need to be put in place to protect these already extremely vulnerable citizens. That is why we wear orange.
Orange is a color that protects us, whether by bringing awareness to teen domestic violence or to gun safety needs. There is a connection between the two, as shown by too many heartbreaking statistics. It sometimes seems that no matter how loud someone yells and demands regulations to make us safer, they are never heard. However, if we continue to band together, never give up, and all wear orange, change can occur.