OnFriday, June 5th we celebrated Wear Orange Day 2020. Every Wear Orange Day, we remember the more than 36,000 lives lost each year to gun violence, and honor the many survivors among us.
Gun violence comes in many forms, encompassing suicide, homicide, accidental shootings, mass shootings, intimate partner violence, and yes, racially-motivated violence. As we have reeled from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others who have been senselessly murdered because of their race, we remind ourselves that while gun violence affects us all, people of color are disproportionately affected by this epidemic. When civilians are unarmed, and an armed officer or vigilante approaches them, we know that the presence of a gun in that situation vastly shifts the power dynamic, and can make an already tense situation more so, with the potential to become deadly. We strive, on Wear Orange Day, and always, to remember all victims of gun violence, and vow to disarm hate in all its forms.
Even though we’re physically distanced this year, you can still commemorate Wear Orange Day 2020 with us by watching our special video.
Many thanks to all of the Delco United members who sent us photos or videos to add to the below compilation, with a special shout out to Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer, Sen. Tom Killion, Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, and Rep. Mike Zabel for joining us in our advocacy this year!
Remember- we wear orange to be seen, heard, and protected. With your help, we can raise awareness for gun violence, and let our leaders know that we demand action.
After the tragic events which recently occurred in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, rather than stepping up and supporting real reform which could prevent similar tragedies in the future, our U.S. Senator Pat Toomey openly refused to support an assault weapons ban. In a statement on Fox News, Sen. Toomey claimed that his reason for not supporting a ban on assault rifles was because, “they are extremely popular”, and “have no more firepower than ordinary hunting rifles”. This illogical, incorrect, and immoral reasoning is no longer acceptable.
In May of 2018, we marched and rallied at Toomey’s Philadelphia office, for our first “Demand the Ban” event. In light of the continued mass shootings and unending daily gun violence committed with semi-automatic assault weapons, and Senator Toomey’s refusal to stand up and protect the Pennsylvanians he was elected to serve, we knew it was time to renew our call for action.
So on Monday, August 12th, Delco United joined with our partners: Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, The CHARLES Foundation, Orange Wave for Gun Safety, and CeasefirePA, to fill the space outside Senator Pat Toomey’s Philadelphia office with hundreds of gun violence prevention advocates for another “Demand the Ban” rally. Among the event’s speakers were Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, State Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell, and leaders from the various partnering organizations. The assembly was led in song by Voices Rising Philly, as well as Lydia Munoz, who helped instill a spirit of hope- an essential resource in the fight to change our current reality.
While Senator Toomey hasn’t yet signed on to theAssault Weapons Ban of 2019 (S. 66), we have reached a tipping point, from which there is no turning back. A majority of Americans support an assault weapons ban, and the many, many supporters who showed up on a Monday afternoon to demand our Senator support this legislation proves that this is the “popular” thing to do! To those of you who were with us at the rally (or joined us in spirit), we thank you for your advocacy. With your help, we WILL change our nation’s gun laws.
Demand the Ban, NOW! You can view CBS 3’s coverage of our event by clicking here.
On Saturday, June 1st, hundreds of Delco United members gathered in Media to make their voices heard, and the message rang out loud and clear: We MUST have real action NOW to end the gun violence in our communities!
A packed crowd formed a sea of orange inside the 2nd Baptist Church of Media, as powerful speeches drove home the notion that we have the power to change our gun laws, if we continue to push forward, together. The opening program included choral performances and poetry, as well as remarks by our very own Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, Rep. Mike Zabel, and many more advocates and survivors. High on everyone’s minds was the devastating news from Virginia Beach… As the large group chanted, prayed, and sang together, they created a sacred space to honor the 12 victims of the recent shooting, as well as the thousands upon thousands of lives lost to gun violence each year, most of which don’t make the evening news.
…But the rally also provided a pathway for the assembly to channel their grief into action. As Delco United Board Member Beverly Wright so eloquently put it, “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are sick and tired of burying our babies. We are sick and tired of mothers crying because they’re not going to have that opportunity to say, ‘I love you’ again. We can’t take this situation lightly. If we have legislators or politicians who are not backing sensible gun policies, we have to get them out of there!” Spurred into action, the “Orange Army” (as brilliantly titled by the Daily Times*) then marched through the town of Media, soldiering on in the smoldering heat with a message of hope for a world free from the plague of gun violence.
As fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters all chanted, “Enough is Enough!” loud enough for our leaders in Harrisburg to hear, the closing rally commenced. Lead in song by Matt Frankl, we “Imagined” a world where we could all live in peace; a world where our children’s lives are prioritized over the agenda of the gun lobby, and our streets, schools, and houses of worship can again be places where we feel safe, instead of targeted.
To all who attended, participated, or helped in any way to make our “Wear Orange” event run smoothly, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your commitment to gun violence prevention refills our most precious and vulnerable resource- HOPE!
*We were privileged to have topnotch coverage of the event from the Delco Daily Times– our “Orange Army” was featured on the front page! March on, soldiers!
On the evening of Wednesday, May 8th, a crowd of 80 supporters gathered at Widener University’s Lathem Hall to hear a panel discussion focused on the issue of gun violence prevention.
The panel consisted of:
Thaddeus Kirkland, Mayor of Chester City
Otis Blair, Chester Police Commissioner
Mike Felker, US Navy Hospital Corpsman and Combat Medic in Vietnam, Member of Veterans for Peace
Dr. Mary Francis, Nurse Practitioner at Cooper Hospital’s Trauma Unit, Faculty Member at the Widener School of Nursing
Lisa Dennis, Chester City Community Liaison
Michael Chitwood, Superintendent of the Upper Darby Police Department
Deb Ciamacca, Former Marine Corps Officer, Social Studies Teacher at Conestoga High School
Brenda Kucirka, Asst. Professor at the Widener School of Nursing
All of the panelists came from vastly different walks of life, and all felt the effects of gun violence on an almost daily basis. While not everyone agreed on every single piece of gun legislation that can help us to move forward, they came together in a consensus on issues like background checks, suicide prevention, and trauma-informed education.
The more discussions we have like this, the easier it will be to find a clear path forward in the fight to end gun violence, and to keep our communities safe.
On a windy Friday morning, an extremely cold- but equally determined– group of advocates held a press conference outside of the Media Courthouse, calling for the passage of Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation. The leaders of Delco United joined with their partners Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence and CeasefirePA to organize the event, which was held a week after the horrific shooting that took place in a Wawa in Radnor on March 28th. Also in attendance at the conference were Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland, State Sen. Tom Killion, State Rep. Todd Stephens, and State Rep. Jennifer O’Mara.
D.A. Copeland pointed out that, had the ERPO bill been enacted into law previously, it could have saved the life of Stephanie Miller. Miller was senselessly murdered by her ex-husband with an AR-15 that he purchased less than 2 weeks before the shooting. Jessica Frankl, Co-Chair of Delco United, reminded the crowd that, “The tragic loss of life that occurred inside a Wawa in Radnor Township unfortunately is not an isolated incident. With nearly 1,500 firearm deaths in Pennsylvania each year, the ripple effects of gun violence are consistently reverberating through our communities, leaving behind children, parents, classmates, colleagues, and friends wrestling with the trauma that continues long after the cameras and news vans leave. Stephanie’s killer was able to walk into a gunshop and buy an AR-15 LEGALLY, with nothing and no one stopping him. This abomination does not- I repeat- does not need to be our everyday reality.”
Many of our lawmakers are already taking the necessary steps to change this reality. Sen. Tom Killion and Rep. Stephens are the prime sponsors of Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation in the Pennsylvania State Senate and State House, respectively. Their life-saving bills, SB 90 and HB 1075, would allow law enforcement and family members to temporarily restrict an individual’s access to firearms, if a judge finds them to be in danger of harming themselves or others. For Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, HB 1075 hits close to home, as her father died by gun suicide when she was just 13 years old. Hundreds of families each year just like hers could benefit from ERPO legislation, which has been proven to significantly reduce the number of firearm suicides. 15 states have enacted similar measures so far; it’s time for Pennsylvania to step up, and join this growing list.