The National Rifle Association (NRA) used its online magazine to encourage readers to “splurge on a new gun” to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a nationwide event that commemorates victims of gun violence.
Americans are wearing orange on June 2 to honor victims of gun violence as part of a national campaign organized by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. According to an Everytown press release, “More than 200 organizations, cultural influencers and elected officials” will promote wearing orange as “a way to visibly honor the 88 American lives cut short by gun violence every day, plus the countless survivors forever altered by shootings each year.”
The “Wear Orange” campaign is an outgrowth of efforts to honor the life of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton. On January 29, 2013, Pendleton was fatally shot while taking shelter from a rainstorm in a South Side Chicago park, allegedly by gang members who thought the group she was standing with included rival gang members. The Chicago Tribune called Pendleton's murder “arguably Chicago's most galvanizing killing in recent years,” and noted that “Pendleton, a dimple-faced sophomore drum majorette, had performed just a week earlier at festivities for President Barack Obama's second inauguration.”
Following her death, Pendleton's friends decided to honor her life with a series of events revolving around the color orange in a project called Project Orange Tree. The group's past president, Nza-Ari Khepra, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “The question then was, 'What's the next step?' We brainstormed. Someone said we should use orange because that's the color hunters wear to alert other hunters they're not the targets.”
Everytown built on Project Orange Tree's efforts by asking Americans to wear orange on June 2 -- which would have been Pendleton's 18th birthday -- to mark the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
The NRA's online magazine, America's 1st Freedom, lashed out at the campaign, calling it pointless in a May 30 post. On June 2, it encouraged readers to mark the day by buying a gun, saying, “If you see any friends or neighbors wearing orange, consider the possibility that they: a) don't support your right to self-defense; and b) have a rather naïve view of what constitutes real activism.”
The NRA proposed an “alternative” way to mark the day: “Actually go to the range; splurge on a new gun; take someone shooting for the first time. It's that kind of quiet but productive activity that makes the NRA base so powerful -- and that Everytown is still trying to figure out.”
Media Matters is a partner in the “Wear Orange” campaign.