A sea of orange spread out over De La Guerra Plaza last Thursday, June 2 as public officials, families, and friends gathered to support National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Day.
The event was hosted by the Summerland-based nonprofit Coalition Against Gun Violence (CAGV), Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and The Concert Across America to #EndGunViolence, all of whom came together to honor victims of gun violence.
Among the speakers was Bob Weiss, of Westlake Village — whose 19-year-old daughter, Veronika Weiss, was killed in the 2014 Isla Vista Tragedy. For the first time since his daughter’s death, Bob spoke to an audience about the process of discovering his “cherished daughter” had been murdered in cold blood. Bob, who chairs The Concert Across America, has been advocating for the passage of common-sense gun legislation in Washington, D.C.
The Concert Across America, a series of simultaneous live music events, takes place on September 25, the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Beginning in New York and moving to the West Coast, the concert — which, according to its website, “demands that Congress mandates a background check for every gun sale” — ends in Santa Barbara. All proceeds go directly to the CAGV.
Dignitaries who spoke Thursday included Santa Barbara Mayor and Congressional candidate Helene Schneider, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, a representative of Assemblymember and Supervisorial candidate Das Williams, and Santa Barbara Unified School District boardmember and State Assembly candidate Monique Limón.
County Supervisor and Congressional candidate Salud Carbajal recalled his own experience with gun violence. When he was eight, his older sister killed herself with a gun that belonged to their father.
Community organizer CAGV boardmember Christina Pizarro and her sister, UCSB student Kelly Pizarro, also spoke. “We’re all working together to end this gun violence, because it’s senseless and it needs to stop,” she told The Santa Barbara Independent by phone.
Reverend Julia Hamilton, Assistant Minister at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, gave a powerful speech that spoke out against the pain and fear inflicted by gun violence. “May we rise in solidarity with all of those whose hearts have been broken from gun violence…May we find compassion even in our fear, even in our anger and our pain, even for those who take their own pain and turn it outward in acts destruction, acts that are aided and magnified by the guns in their hands.”
The CAGV recently asked for $25,000 from the City of Santa Barbara to fund the nonprofit’s annual gun buyback. On Wednesday, City Council voted to allocate $10,000 to the coalition. Although it is less than what was asked for, the coalition is working on raising the rest of the money to continue with this year’s gun buyback. City Council also stated that this was a one-time occurrence and suggested that the coalition broaden its search for public and private funding for future buybacks.