Above: The “Wear Orange” campaign aims to raise awareness to gun violence prevention across the country. Encinitas recently issued a proclamation declaring June 7 National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Courtesy photo
ENCINITAS — Over the past several years, the Encinitas City Council has waded into the national conversation about gun violence prevention, but support for gun safety proclamations, resolutions or the like have rarely been unanimous.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear on May 22 issued a proclamation declaring June 7 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, as part of a nationwide effort to call attention to gun-violence prevention held on the first Friday in June the past five years. Support for the proclamation was unanimous from the dais.
“I think there’s a growing recognition that gun violence is an epidemic,” Blakespear said. “And that it is preventable and we need to do more as a society.”
“Wear Orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day” stemmed from the 2013 shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was killed just a week after attending and performing at President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration.
Pendleton’s killer was sentenced to 86 years in prison earlier this year.
Encinitas’ history with passage of anything related to gun violence awareness has been controversial.
In 2016, former Mayor Kristin Gaspar declined to issue a similar proclamation, saying that it was politically charged. The following year, the proclamation received the full support of the council with little fanfare.
Last year, the Public Safety and Traffic Commission split on a gun-violence awareness resolution proffered up by gun-safety advocate Steve Bartram in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, ultimately declining to recommend it to the City Council.
The council then considered the same resolution in March and voted 4-1 to support it, but not before several gun ownership activists and former Councilman Mark Muir criticized the resolution as too extreme.
This year, Blakespear issued the proclamation with members of the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, all clad in orange, the color the group asks the public to wear on June 7.
Orange was the color chosen by Hadiya’s classmates to honor her and bring awareness to gun violence because it is the color that hunters wear to announce themselves to other hunters while in the woods.
“Orange is a color that symbolizes the value of human life,” Blakespear said in her proclamation.
Citing federal crime statistics, the proclamation noted that every day 100 people in America are killed in an incident involving a firearm, totaling 13,000 gun deaths annually.
Americans, according to the proclamation, are 25 times more likely to be killed by guns than an any other high-income nation.
The proclamation did not call for a ban of gun ownership, rather it encourages responsible gun ownership and for governments to do more to keep guns out of the hands of people with “dangerous histories.”
Nancy Hardwick, president of the local Moms Demand Action chapter, thanked the council and Blakespear for the proclamation.
Hardwick said that chapters of the organization met with legislators in Sacramento recently to lobby for more funds for the California Violence Prevention and Intervention Grant program, which awards competitive grants for the purpose of violence intervention and prevention.
Hardwick said the program has successfully reduced shootings and retaliatory gun violence in communities statewide.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced support of tripling the funding pool for the program from $9 million to $27 million.