On June 4, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Jacksonville (LISC) and community partners from all over the country will take part in a national day of recognition called Wear Orange to recognize the victims of gun violence. While personally I don’t purport to be someone who is vested in the gun argument, I do acknowledge that guns kill people.
No matter if the assailant is a mentally challenged person with a penchant for racist ideology or someone who has lost their cool and reacts to an offense, the outcome is still the same: Someone had access to a gun, and now people are dead or seriously injured. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 45,222 people who met their maker due to gun violence in 2020. Another way to look at this: Every day, 124 people in the United States die due to a gun.
On Monday in Jacksonville, a high school student’s life was taken only a few hours after his graduation. The very next day, a gunman took the lives of 19 young souls and two adults at an elementary school in Texas. The outrage here and across the country is palpable as people demand that our communities and elected officials act.
In communities that LISC serves around the nation, “residents are 10 times more likely to die from gun homicides and 18 times more likely to be injured by guns,” based upon research provide by Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading voice on gun safety advocacy. To make this point even more salient, every single day, 30 African Americans will die from gun violence. According to data provided by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, there have been 53 murders so far in Jacksonville as of this writing.
I must note that I had to update this column a few times prior to submitting it, due to additional gun-related violence, again illustrating that this happens: Every. Single. Day. Even more shocking is that nationally, according to the latest CDC report, homicide is the leading cause of death amongst young Hispanics and African Americans between the ages of 10-24.
LISC Jacksonville will pause on June 4 to stand with other community organizations locally and across the country, to "Wear Orange" to honor survivors of gun violence and to commemorate those whose lives ended because of it. We serve with and stand alongside community partners such as Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety and victims (both living and deceased) to collectively acknowledge the senselessness of gun violence and to acknowledge its resulting trauma.
For LISC Jacksonville, June 4 is not about the political posturing inherent in the gun discussion. It is about acknowledging this issue relative to the communities we serve, and the implications gun violence has on them. It is about affirming our position regarding the outcomes and interventions that we know work for those very same communities. We seek to create systems of safety amid various forms of violence in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.
We cannot and should not stand by and allow the narrative to continue that suggests if you live in certain areas of town, you are likely to die due to gun violence. Our commitment to better outcomes has to be bigger and bolder than that. Furthermore, if we are to address the current affordable housing crisis, we must be prepared to address the issue of gun violence in these same communities because they must be a part of a desirable and larger housing solution.
We encourage the community to express solidarity with us on June 4 by wearing orange and joining us at Success Park, on the campus of Edward Waters College (intersection of Pearce and West Third streets), starting at 10 a.m.
Together, we can change the narrative of gun violence and be a part of a larger solution to significantly decrease gun violence in our community.
Dr. Irvin “PeDro” Cohen, executive director, LISC Jacksonville
This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Guest column: ‘Wear Orange’ June 4 in solidarity against gun violence