While social issues regarding race and equality have taken the spotlight throughout the county, Lakewood officials wanted to shine a light on another pressing issue. City council unanimously approved a resolution declaring June 5 as Gun Violence Awareness Day during a meeting held Monday.
“Together we can prevent gun violence among our children and keep our community safer,” Councilwoman Tess Neff said during the meeting.
The resolution was proposed by Ness with the help of Lakewood resident Mary Anne Crampton who works for the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization focused on introducing safety measures to protect people from gun violence.
“We live in a country where citizens have a right to own a gun but for some reason, we’re very reluctant to talk about the implications of owning one and how to protect one another from this very lethal weapon,” Crampton said.
The day coincides with National Gun Violence Awareness Week, which was established in 2013 when teenager Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in Chicago. Those interested in participating will be asked to wear orange like Pendleton’s friends did after her death.
Gun violence in America has long been a growing issue to many Americans in the state. Everyday, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns and firearms are the second leading cause of death for children and teens in the country. A resident with access to a gun is three times more likely to commit suicide, according to information provided by wearorange, an organization working to increase awareness of gun violence in America.
Nearly 1,500 children under the age of 18 are killed with guns every year. On average that’s four children a day. More than half of those are homicides about 800 children a year and about 600 of those are suicides and the remaining 100 deaths are unintentional, Crampton said.
In Ohio, there has been a total of 16,374 people that have been killed by guns between 2007 and 2019. There’s also been a 40% increase in firearm sales since 2007, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in July found that nine out of 10 Ohio residents support universal background checks during gun purchases. The poll also found that about 87% of gun owners in the state said they support universal background checks. Nationally, about 61% of Americans said they support stricter gun laws overall, according to a poll conducted by the university in May.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was formed after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 27 people on Dec. 14, 2012. The organization’s founder, Shannon Watts, formed the group on Facebook the day after the shooting and it now has a chapter in every state.
While small, city officials believe this is the first step to making real change in gun violence issues in the county.
“It’s critically important that we work to end gun violence because it destroys lives and communities,” Ness said.
Contact this reporter at Akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 216-307-6614.