Observing Gun Violence Awareness Day

This year, we’ve seen an unprecedented level of activism from young people here in Madison, in Wisconsin, and across the country centered on gun safety. Once again, our young people are showing us the way forward when policy makers have failed them. I’m committed to listening to their voices and following their lead. This year, I’m wearing orange in honor of the young people.

June 1st was National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as “Wear Orange Day”. “Wear Orange” was inspired by friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago high school student killed by gunfire, who decided to honor her life by wearing orange. On June 2, 2015, what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday, more than 200 organizations and influencers asked people nationwide to join them by wearing orange to honor her life and the lives of those killed and injured by gun violence every day.

In Wisconsin and throughout our country, gun violence happens indiscriminately in rural, urban and suburban areas, as well as in Democratic and Republican legislative districts. Nearly 3 out of 4 gun deaths in Wisconsin are suicides, and many are among rural, white men ages 45 and older. Black men are 20 times more likely than white men to die from homicides involving firearms. Young adults in Wisconsin ages 15 to 29 are more likely to be killed by a gun than a motor vehicle. Since 1999, about one child has been killed by a firearm every two weeks. In 2016, a firearm was used in over half of all domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin.

However, my Republican colleagues refuse to consider what the research very clearly shows is the most effective way to prevent gun injuries and deaths – preventing individuals who will do harm from getting access to deadly firearms in the first place. They have refused to pass the most basic, yet most effective, policies to keep Wisconsinites safe, including universal background checks, reinstating the 48 hour waiting period on handgun purchases, banning bump stocks, and limiting the magazine capacity of deadly firearms.

I urge everyone to remember the array of ways gun violence affects Wisconsinites of every locale, age, gender, race, and political stripe. It’s going to take a multitude of solutions to make sure that everyone is safe in their communities, but we can greatly reduce gun violence. I stand ready to work to balance the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership while enhancing and protecting the safety of the public. The lives of Wisconsinites depend on it.