Today, June 2, is National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety (the group behind the event) and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an average of 93 Americans lose their lives to guns every day, whether by murder, suicide, an accident, or police intervention.
This past year, like so many before it, was marked with a number of high-profile and fatal gun incidents, including the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile outside of St. Paul, the killing of five Dallas police officers, and the mass shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, among countless other tragedies. Reports show that the U.S. has the most mass shootings in the world.
One reason could be the relationship between guns and politics. The Center for Responsive Politics and The Trace found that the NRA poured about $50 million into supporting Republican candidates in the 2016 election, including now-President Donald Trump. Only one of the candidates the organization supported lost. A NRA lobbyist even spoke at the Republican National Convention.
And despite the fact that anti-LGBTQ politicians still expressed condolences in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, a 20-year old law preventing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying guns “to advocate or promote gun control” remained in effect.
For 24 hours in June, House Democrats held a historic #NoBillNoBreak sit-in demanding background checks for gun sales online and at gun shows, as well as legislation blocking the sale of guns to people on the government terrorist watch list. At the sit-in, Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell shared her personal experience with domestic violence and having a gun pointed at her.
Despite the protests, the calls by legislators and celebrities and everyday people for change, the tragedies, and the fact that a majority of young people polled last year said they support stricter gun control laws and background checks, there’s a lot of work to be done.
Until the U.S. addresses its gun problem once and for all, every day should be Gun Violence Awareness Day in this country. But today specifically, Everytown for Gun Safety is calling on supporters to wear orange, to call policymakers and push them to pass gun control legislation, and to attend an event to show support to victims and families who have lost lives to gun violence.
“There’s no more important time to get involved than this year, this summer, this day,” organizers wrote on the day’s official page. “Our country is at a turning point, and now more than ever, we have to fight for what we believe in.”