I recently asked for the mayor of Encinitas to sign a proclamation in support of the National Gun Violence Awareness Day walk on 2 June. This is a walk started by friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school student from the south side of Chicago who was killed in January of 2013.
June 2 would have been her 19th birthday.
Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange. They chose the color because hunters wear orange in the woods to protect themselves and others. Organizers asked people nationwide to join Hadiya’s friends by wearing orange in honoring her life, and the lives of the 91 Americans shot and killed every day.
Many organizations and individuals support this “Wear Orange” event, including Tony Hawk, Mom’s Against Gun Violence, and others.
In Encinitas and beyond, I ask politicians and residents not to let fear of political retribution stop them from recognizing that we have an issue in this country with gun violence. The issue is not gun ownership: it’s not whether you own a gun, but what you do with it.
What we’re asking for is recognition that gun ownership, like any other right, comes with responsibility. Gun sellers, gun owners, and elected officials have responsibilities to ensure that only mentally stable, law-abiding adults have access to lethal weapons, and that anyone who does have a weapon has the proper training to be able to store and use it safely and legally.
These steps should not be politically threatening. These steps can reduce the deaths caused by gun violence. We cannot allow fear of losing votes to take priority over action to save lives.
If not now, when? If not you, who?
Ask the mayor to use her position of leadership to acknowledge the effort of the friends of Hadiya Pendleton by proclaiming 2 June as Gun Violence Awareness Day. We are a city that prides itself on continuous improvement in public safety. Let us step away from fear. The Mayor does not have to be afraid of 2 high school students who want to honor the memory of a friend and keep more kids from accidental gun death.
Join me on June 2 for a walk starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101, just down the street from city hall.
I will be wearing orange.
Call or email the Mayor, (760) 633-2618; firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask her to sign the proclamation. Let’s support the efforts of children to reduce the chance that they will lose another friend to needless gun death.
Steve Bartram is an Encinitas resident.