JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Just before dusk Friday evening, steps away from the Columbine Memorial honoring the 13 people who were killed in a school shooting in 1999, a large group gathered to listen, to speak, to walk and to “Wear Orange.”
“I’m here with my body to say something to the people of Uvalde,” said Paul Houston, a grandpa and veteran who walked to advocate for a ban on assault weapons. “It was really the horror there that got me to say, "I’m getting the boots on again. It’s time to march."”
The orange shirts donned by marchers are symbolic, representing the safety gear worn by hunters to protect themselves and others from gunfire. It has been a tradition since 2013, after Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago just a week after marching in President Barak Obama’s second inaugural parade.
Congressman Jason Crow attended the march and called on Congress to pass a nationwide ban on assault weapons. Similarly, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser warned that the U.S. Supreme Court could soon issue rulings that would undermine state laws passed that mandate universal background checks and ban high-capacity magazines.
“We must do the work,” Weiser told the crowd after the march. “It says in scripture, "You don’t have the obligation to repair the world by yourself. But you’re not free to desist from doing your part."”
Also among the marchers was Jane Dougherty, whose sister was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
“She gave her life so I can keep showing up and talking to people,” Dougherty said. “I can keep going down to the Capitol. I can testify. I can encourage other people. And as you can see, this massive crowd here — people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. So, there’s hope.”
The event was sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women and Moms Demand Action, which advocates for stronger gun laws and a “culture of responsible gun ownership.”
June 3 marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and this weekend marks Wear Orange Weekend.