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Sara Jacobs, left, a candidate for the 49th Congressional District, joins Moms Demand Action event leader Allison Shaewitz in a selfie frame on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Moonlight Beach was one of six stands where participants wore orange on June 2 in support of preventing gun violence. Courtesy photo
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‘Wear Orange’: National Gun Violence Awareness Day brings residents together

REGION — They wore orange to be seen. It’s not a color that can be easily ignored, but neither is the social cause it represents: gun-violence prevention.

A North County contingent of the national organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America set up six “orangeade” informational stands from Solana Beach to Vista on Saturday, June 2. The purpose was to “honor the victims and survivors of gun violence and to create awareness around the issue,” said one organizer Nikki Faddick.

“Wear Orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day” evolved out of the tragic shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago in 2013. Just one week before she was killed, Hadiya, an honors student, had performed at President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade. Her friends chose to wear orange in her honor and asked others to do the same. From that action, the movement spread into a national campaign.

Lois Bry, age 6, participates at the Bressi Ranch stand in Carlsbad. Photo by Mary Schrader

The planned event, coincidentally, was held just two days after Torrey Pines High School was closed due to a threat of violence. A 21-year-old former TPHS student named Kevin Gregory Matlak, who was arrested on May 31, precipitated the closure after posting an image of a gun on social media along with the threat to kill others and take his own life.

A USA Today poll conducted in March found that gun violence was what young people ages 13 to 24 feared the most. The survey found that the threat of gun violence was more worrying for them than terrorism, climate change, racism or affording college.

As a local case in point, one Torrey Pines senior who wished to remain anonymous said he wouldn’t be attending his upcoming graduation ceremony because he feared it would be a “psycho magnet.”

According to the Moms Demand Action website, “seven American children or teens are shot and killed every day.” The organization seeks sensible gun laws to protect children and their families.

Several local politicians and candidates stopped by the orangeade stands on Saturday to show their support for the cause, including Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas Councilwoman and 76th Assembly District candidate Tasha Boerner Horvath, and 49th Congressional District candidates Sara Jacobs and Mike Levin.

Blakespear said, “The status quo of tolerating the death and injury of thousands of Americans, including schoolchildren, because of the prevalence of guns in our society has to change. I wear orange today and am participating in Gun Violence Awareness Day to create a safer future for all Americans.”

In addition to disseminating information, the stands attempted to be “family-friendly and approachable,” Faddick said, with snacks, orangeade, kindness cards and selfie frames available. “The point was to amplify the voices of the people who want to end our nation’s gun-violence epidemic and reach out to those who might otherwise not attend one of our events,” she explained.