Eastside cities such as Issaquah and Snoqualmie have joined citizens in recognizing June 2019 as Gun Violence Awareness Month and the Wear Orange campaign.
The mayors of Issaquah, Sammamish and Snoqualmie made official proclamations announcing June 7, 2019, as Gun Violence Awareness Day as a show of support for local groups working to create safer communities. The effort came from the local chapter of the Moms Demand Action advocacy group, which supports increased gun safety and responsible gun ownership.
Gun Violence Awareness Day coincided with the national Wear Orange campaign, which was observed that same weekend. The Wear Orange movement began in 2015 to honor Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who had performed at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration event in 2013, and was killed a week after the inauguration.
Mary Harris, a volunteer with the local Moms Demand Action group, said she worked with other volunteers to submit the proclamation request to each of the cities. For Issaquah Mayor Mary Lou Pauly, this was the second year she agreed to make the proclamation.
“We wanted to make sure we reinforced their message. We don’t want to see anyone lost to gun violence and we are concerned about all of our citizens, visitors, and employees’ safety,” Pauly said. “We want to make sure we do whatever we can to make sure we reduce firearms getting into the wrong hands and that we promote responsible gun ownership.”
Harris felt these proclamations were a good step in bringing the conversation on gun violence prevention to the local level.
“I think it demonstrates that when local government supports these kinds of initiatives, it is an issue everyone needs to pay attention to,” she said. “We’re out talking about every day because it affects everyone in the community. When we have the support and proclamation from the mayor, it elevates the conversation.”
Harris and the Moms Demand Action group also participated in the June 9 rally at Sam Smith Park in Seattle to honor the victims of gun violence. Erin Sloane, also of the Issaquah, Sammamish and Snoqualmie Moms Demand Action group, helped in the organization and asked 8th Congressional District Representative Kim Schrier to attend and speak at the event. Robert Schentrup and Manual Oliver, relatives of students killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, also attended the event and spoke about their advocacy for common sense gun laws.