Chapel Hill gun safety advocates and elected officials wore orange at the Peace and Justice Plaza last Friday to raise awareness on gun violence in the United States.

“We wear orange to be seen, so our numbers can be counted and we can demand to be heard,” Sara Veety, a local leader in the Moms Demand Action movement said.

Gun Violence Awareness rally 2019. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Veety called gun violence an epidemic in our country. After the event, she spoke to WCHL’s Blake Hodge about the success Moms Demand Action has had in promoting gun safety legislation and candidates.

“Changing the laws state by state is the most important and effective method we have right now,” she said. “We haven’t gotten any movement in Congress in forever. So going state by state and encouraging our members to get active is really an effective method for us.”

In the 2018 elections, more than 1,000 candidates endorsed by Moms Demand Actions for their gun safety platforms were elected, according to the group. That includes former-North Carolina chapter leader Christy Clark elected to the State House last November from District 98 in the suburbs of Charlotte.

The movement to wear orange to raise awareness of gun violence came out of the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed in Chicago in 2013 one week after performing at President Obama’s second inaugural parade.

Also at last week’s event was Orange County’s Sheriff Charles Blackwood. Afterward, he spoke about how responsible gun ownership can go a long way to curbing gun violence.

“That means making sure that we are educated in the use of firearms,” the sheriff said, “making sure we’re keeping them secured like we’re suppose to, so they don’t fall into the wrong hands or a child doesn’t find it and accidentally hurt themselves or someone else.”

The sheriff said he believes no matter what side of the debate you stand on, everybody agrees they want to see less gun violence.

“Now whether the legislators want to come to the middle of the aisle and work on that, that’s yet to be seen.”