Naperville picnic to protest 'randomness of gun violence'
The Millennium Carillon will be lit up orange. The city council proclamation will declare the day's purpose official. And at least 70 activists for gun violence prevention will gather for a picnic today in Naperville to promote their cause.
The free event from noon to 2 p.m. at Knoch Knolls Nature Center is one of more than 350 across the country in the "Wear Orange" campaign by the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Local gun control activists say they want to draw attention to the need for what they call "common-sense gun laws" to help prevent further shootings at schools -- or anywhere else in American communities.
"Our intent is to follow the mission of the Wear Orange movement, which is to honor victims of gun violence and their memory and also to raise awareness around the issue of gun violence," said Shelly Sandstrom, who leads the West Suburban Chicago chapter of Moms Demand Action.
During Saturday's picnic, student and adult gun control activists will speak about their motivation to take action. The group will gather for treats, drinks and games. Participants will be asked to wear orange -- the color hunters wear for visibility and safety -- and to bring kites to fly in remembrance of people killed by gun violence.
Sandstrom said the sadness of the issue is it could be anyone.
"The randomness of gun violence is what Moms Demand Action is not accepting," she said.
Working in line with the Wear Orange movement, the local chapter of Moms Demand Action got Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and the city council to declare June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Naperville. Some cities across the country are marked the milestone Friday, but most of the Wear Orange events are set for today, Sandstrom said.
"You realize this can touch anybody at anytime," she said, "so we wanted our community to proclaim that we are trying to, as a city, keep our citizens safe."
The picnic follows two student walkouts in Naperville and across the suburbs March 14, one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Davis High School in Parkland, Florida, and on April 20, the 19-year anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Sandstrom said she got involved with Moms Demand Action and helped start the West Suburban Chicago chapter two years ago. Membership, she said, ballooned from 20 people at the average meeting to 120 after the Parkland shooting.
"I don't have a personal experience with gun violence, but it seems to be coming close to home for many of us," she said.
Activists hope their gathering on Saturday will bring healing to anyone who has suffered a loss from gun violence and give people ways to get involved in the future. Attendees will be able to sign up for text or email lists with Moms Demand Action to be informed about upcoming campaigns.