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Thoughts on Wear Orange Weekend | 7 June 2019

The Wear Orange campaign made me think about my personal connection to gun violence. Here are two: I have a pulse and I go out to public places.

Here are some more:

  • I’m a human being who lives in the United States.

  • I’m a Pennsylvanian, citizen of a state in which people are shot to death in houses of worship, and where the state legislature refuses to pass an extreme risk protection order law.

  • I’m a Philadelphian, resident of a city where there are so many lives lost to gun violence every day and week and month, that the news media doesn’t bother to cover most shooting deaths any more.

  • I’m the mother of children, the sister of teachers. Friend and family member to many people, who like me, have a pulse and go out to public places.

At my daughter’s college graduation in May, armed men, clad all in black, patrolled the roofs of the buildings surrounding the football field where commencement took place. In the departmental graduation ceremony beforehand, the department chair began her remarks by making sure everyone was aware of where to exit in case of an emergency. We, the proud friends and joyous families who had gathered to celebrate, and the graduates themselves, we all knew exactly what kind of emergency was being imagined.

This is the country we live in, whether we realize we all have a personal connection to gun violence or not. It’s a place of repeated, heart-wrenching, unnecessary, preventable tragedies, a place where an epic public health crisis grows and grows. More than 36,000 people die by guns each year in our country. ⅔ of those by suicide. Nearly 500 in gun accidents. Almost 13,000 by gun homicide.

I have a pulse and I go out to public places. Do you? Then you have a personal connection to gun violence, too.

"The drawings are simple. Smiling faces with bright eyes, traced from the photos that have been circulating online since Feb. 14. The words are simple as well, hammered onto notebook paper with a manual typewriter. With lines stacked for impact, the kind of bios you’d find under yearbook photos are shot through with the terse language of a breaking news report. The effect is a gut punch."

Alex Jones at Billy Penn.