National Gun Violence Awareness Day - History and Local Events

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As you may be aware, June is National Gun Violence Awareness Month. More specifically, the ninth annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day will take place on June 2nd, 2023. 

The first annual Gun Violence Awareness Day took place in June 2015 on what would have been the 18th birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teenager who was mistakenly shot and killed on a playground on January 21, 2013. After her death, friends and family began the movement to wear orange to raise awareness of gun violence. The color is now used as a symbol of anti-gun violence around the country.

Wear Orange has expanded to a period of three days each year: National Gun Violence Awareness Day (the first Friday in June) and Wear Orange Weekend (the accompanying weekend). This year, Wear Orange Weekend will take place June 2-4, 2023.

As this day approaches, we’d like to highlight the importance of gun violence prevention as it relates to the rising suicide rates in our country. In 2021, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides, the highest percentage since 2001. Data from 2021 also shows a 23% increase in total gun deaths since 2019 (Pew Research Center). In Iowa, 79% of gun deaths are suicides and 17% are homicides. (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund).

“Research shows that across all suicide attempts without a gun, 4% result in death. But when a gun is involved, that figure skyrockets to 90%....Given the unique lethality of firearms as a means of suicide, addressing gun suicide is an essential element of any strategy to reduce gun violence in this country” (Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund).

As suicide-related deaths (as well as other acts of gun violence) are on the rise, we wanted to inform you of an upcoming opportunity to get involved. There are a few events taking place in Iowa on June 3, 2023 through Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence:

  1. Iowa City: Johnson County - Farmers Market Tabling Wear Orange: “Stop by our Wear Orange table at the Iowa City Farmer's Market! We'll have kids coloring pages and a fun photo booth so you can take a picture to elevate National Gun Violence Awareness Day and #WearOrange weekend on social media.”

  2. Cedar Falls: Cedar Valley - Wear Orange (10am): “Join us at this family-friendly community event where we honor lives taken by gun violence and stand in solidarity with survivors.”

  3. Des Moines - Wear Orange Creative Visions block party (12pm): “It's a block party! Creative Visions is hosting a block party to honor gun violence survivors. Let's show our support and help out with this event!” 

Related Articles and Resources:

  1. Gun Violence Prevention (American Psychological Association).

  2. What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S. (Pew Research Center).

  3. Gun Violence in Iowa (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund).

  4. Beyond Measure: Gun Violence Trauma (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund): “The trauma of gun violence is immeasurable. This study focuses on trauma from gun violence by listening to the voices and experiences of those directly impacted.”

  5. Gun Violence Survivors in America (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund): “This survey explores the breadth of gun violence in America and how it impacts survivors.”

  6. Gun Suicide (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund).


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