When the Parkland school shooting happened, Cary Williams knew she wanted to join like-minded people to do something to curb gun violence and deaths.
So, she and a friend went to a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense meeting in Lexington, not knowing there was a car behind them with two more local residents interested in doing the same thing. That led to the formation of a Georgetown chapter which will recognize the national Wear Orange Day this Friday.
“After the Parkland shooting and watching those kids doing what they were doing and what they went through…that’s what got me interested in starting a chapter here,” Williams said. “The courage of those kids and they never stopped.”
On Friday, Williams and others across the country will don orange to remember victims of gun violence and raise awareness of sensible laws to prevent gun violence.
“This Friday will be our first event in Georgetown, so we started small,” Williams said. “Mayor Tom Prather signed a proclamation declaring Friday as Wear Orange Day, and we will have a circle of silence at the courthouse from noon to 1 p.m. to remember those who have been killed or survivors of gun violence.
“We thought the circle of silence would be a non-confrontational and kind way to remember those victims and survivors.
“We were thrilled to have the mayor’s and city council’s support.”
Anyone can come during that time and join those in the circle, who will be silently standing. Williams also said people can come and leave as they wish and no one has to stay the whole hour.
The Georgetown chapter, which right now is about 20 people, also went to downtown Georgetown businesses to ask about putting up orange signs to raise awareness of the day and the group, Williams said.
“We were thrilled that every Georgetown business said they would put up a sign. Some even put them up before we left,” she said.
“I also went to homes along East Main to ask the homeowners if they would put a sign up too.” Williams said several homeowners also agreed to put an orange sign up in their homes.
Moms Demand Action started after the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the national organization chose orange as their color to remember Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 just a week after performing at President Barak Obama’s second inaugural parade.
“Everyone thought after Sandy Hook that surely to goodness something would change, but it hasn’t,” Williams said.
Moms Demand Action is a non-partisan, grassroots effort to advocate for stronger gun laws using common-sense, middle-ground solutions based on evidence, she said.
Among the goals the group has focused on is closing deadly loopholes in background checks, teaching gun safety to children and reasonable limits of safely carrying loaded guns and where they can be carried. A big push has been Red Flag laws where families or law enforcement can petition the court to remove a person’s gun if it is determined they are a danger to themselves or others.
Williams and others in the Georgetown chapter are available to talk to groups, young and old, about gun safety and how to prevent accidental shootings and other sensible laws, Williams said.
“Part of that message is in the Be Smart campaign that targets students on educating them on the proper safety and storage of guns. We can also talk to adults about the same things,” she said.
“We have met with (Scott County High School principal) Meocha Williams and she is excited to start a program at the high school.”
While school shootings, including the 2018 shooting at Marshall County High that left two students dead, capture the public’s attention, Williams said the group also casts a light on how suicides and accidental deaths are related to guns. She said the statistics on gun violence are shocking.
“Twenty-two veterans are killed every day by guns. If a woman is in a domestic violence situation, she is five times more likely to be killed if there is a gun in the house,” she said.
“I was going to print out a list of every gunfire incident in a school for the last six years for a presentation. It was 65 pages long.”
She encourages people who are interested in the group’s advocacy efforts to join them at the courthouse Friday.
“This is our first event in Georgetown and we will see where it goes from here,” Williams said.
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.