HELENA – Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins proclaimed June 1 as National Gun Violence Awareness day at a vigil Friday hosted by Helena Moms Demand Action.
Dozens gathered in downtown Helena’s performance square to call for an end to gun violence and school shootings. The vigil coincides with the beginning of Wear Orange weekend, a nationwide movement to remember victims of gun violence and create change.
Participants wore the color orange and pinned orange ribbons on their shirts. Orange has become the defining color of the gun violence prevention movement and draws parallels to the color hunters wear to alert others not to shoot.
Pat Harper, volunteer coordinator for Helena Moms Demand Action, said she wants to create change for her grandchildren.
“I’m a grandmother of a high schooler and a middle schooler. I know that they are concerned they may die at school,” Harper said. “We are absolutely positive that our votes count. We can talk to candidates we can insist that they vote for common sense measures.”
Members of Helena Youth Against Gun Violence, a coalition of local students, also attended the vigil. Both Helena Moms Demand Action and Helena Youth Against Gun Violence have made it a mission to connect with legislative candidates to understand their views regarding guns.
In April, Helena Youth Against Gun Violence hosted a town hall and invited Montana legislative candidates from all parties to attend and voice their opinions, though not all parties opted to attend. The youth movement said many of their members are coming to voting age and they want to be informed about where candidates stand on the issues.
Hundreds of similar Wear Orange events are scheduled throughout the country including events in Missoula, Billings, Bozeman and Great Falls.
For more details, visit www.wearorange.org.