CHICAGO, IL (via chicagotribune.com) - May 31, 2016 -- The NRA is very successful at lobbying and politicking. We should be having a conversation about limiting armed violence while protecting the constitutional rights of sportsmen who want to pass along cherished family legacies, and property owners who want to guard themselves against intruders.
Instead, the national narrative on gun control plays on fears that the government wants to take away everyone's weapons and constitutionally protected rights.
Some members of Congress, though, are trying to change that narrative. Second District U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, a Democrat who represents parts of Chicago and the south suburbs, last week introduced a resolution seeking to establish June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and designating June as National Gun Violence Awareness Month.
"This Congress has proven there is no appetite to end gun violence," Kelly said on the House floor in October.
Ten House colleagues co-sponsored the resolution, including Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth and representatives from New York to California. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois sponsored the resolution in the Senate, where 15 other senators voiced support for the measure.
"This isn't a Chicago problem, a Newtown problem or an Oregon problem," Kelly said. "It's an American problem."
“Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are shot and more than 30,000 die from gun violence,” Kelly cites a statistic that gun violence is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 and 24.
“The purpose of the resolution is to promote awareness of the deadly toll of gun violence. The timing of the proposed observance recognizes that gun violence typically spikes at the start of summer.”
In Chicago over this year's Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot and six were killed by gunfire. Shootings and deaths from guns are up significantly in Chicago this year compared to last, with about 1,500 people shot and 250 killed by means of gun fire through May, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
The timing of the resolution also recognizes that June 2 would have been the 19th birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in Chicago in January 2013. Pendleton was a student who died just days after performing at events related to President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
A year ago, Pendleton's family marked the 18th anniversary of her birth with the first observance of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was among those who spoke at a gathering in Washington Park on the South Side.
Pendleton's family members encourage people to wear orange on June 2 to promote awareness of gun violence.
"Wearing the color orange was an idea inspired by Hadiya's family and friends in Chicago," Durbin said in a statement. "Because orange is a color that hunters use when they are in the woods to make sure no one shoots them, they decided that it could represent support for a simple goal: Keeping our kids safe."
Last year, Kelly introduced a resolution calling on the surgeon general to submit to Congress an annual report about the effects of gun violence on public health.
"The homefront is becoming a war zone," Kelly said. "Military-style assault weapons are flooding our streets."
Last year, the House Appropriations Committee rejected a legislative effort that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control to study the underlying causes of gun violence. Also, the Senate rejected a measure that would have required background checks of people buying guns online and at gun shows.
"Can't we own up to our responsibility to stop this violence?" Kelly asked fellow members of Congress last year. "Can't we own the fact we are losing a generation of Americans to gun violence?"
"Gun violence can happen anywhere," Kelly said. "We see suffering in urban areas, in suburban areas and in rural areas. Unless all of us are safe, none of us are safe."
Have something to say to the anti-gun folks? Tweet your thoughts: #WearOrange