Santa Barbara County has joined communities across the country to declare June 2 National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Day. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at De La Guerra Plaza, three organizations will host a #WearOrange event to honor victims of gun violence. Speakers include Bob Weiss — the father of Veronika Weiss, who was killed in the 2014 Isla Vista Tragedy — Mayor Helene Schneider, and a representative of County Supervisor Salud Carbajal.
The Summerland-based Coalition Against Gun Violence (CAGV), Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and The Concert Across America to #EndGunViolence are three organizations supporting Santa Barbara’s Wear Orange Day, a movement founded after Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot and killed in Kentwood, Illinois in 2013. Hunters wear the color orange to alert other hunters of their presence. The color has since turned into a symbol for the value of human life everywhere.
The CAGV is a nonprofit coalition consisting of 40 member organizations dedicated to ending gun violence and creating a safer community for Santa Barbara County. For the past two years, the coalition has worked to raise money for annual “no questions asked” gun buybacks. The 2014 gun buyback collected 239 firearms, while the 2015 gun buyback collected 247 firearms. Both years, unwanted guns were exchanged for a total of $20,000 worth of Vons gift cards.
Once the guns are collected, they are run through a criminal database and given serial numbers. If a gun has previously been used in a crime, it’s turned over to authorities. If a gun comes up clean, it’s burned in a controlled fire and the remaining metal is melted down and used to build washing machines.
This year, the CAGV is asking the city’s Finance Committee to fund $20,000 for the 2016 gun buyback. On June 1, the committee votes on the matter; four votes are needed to fund the buyback. “We understand that with cutbacks $20,000 is a lot of money, but if that $20,000 could save a life, then it is worth it because a human life is priceless,” said the CAGV’s Christina Pizarro.