It’s been three years since the Wear Orange movement began. Thursday marked the first rally in Blair County.
The crowd that gathered at the Blair County Courthouse was on the smaller side, but the ones that were here left with a big message.
“We as citizens, we individuals and we as communities can do something about gun violence in our own communities,” said Rabbi Audrey Korotkin of Temple Beth Israel in Altoona.
In January 2013, a high school student in the South Side of Chicago was gunned down in a park near her school. Her friends started wearing orange to commemorate her life.
“It’s bright and it’s loud and they wanted to get people’s attention,” Korotkin said.
Since then, it’s turned into a national movement.
“We discovered that there wasn’t a wear orange event between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, and we thought, well that can’t be,” Korotkin said. “It can’t just be in big cities that we’re trying to get the word across.”
The Interfaith Women’s Clergy Coalition brought the rally to the Blair County Courthouse on national Wear Orange day.
“We do have a lot of individuals who carry guns, but we have a lot of positive individuals who carry guns,” said Altoona councilwoman Christie Jordan. “Our rate of gun violence has dropped significantly over the years, and that’s partly through Operation Our Town bringing everyone together to address the issues in our community.”
There are three pieces of legislation currently aimed at making a change. One house bill (HB 1010) would eliminate the exception based on the type of gun or seller for private sales of long guns.
House bill 1515 would enact a statewide lost or stolen reporting requirement.
Senate bill 1182 would require all convicted domestic abusers and defendants to turn over their firearms to the sheriff’s office or a licensed dealer.
“They can help,” Jordan said. “They have tools to bring these crimes to a low and to help the needs of our community.”
More than 80 national groups are working together to get the word out, but they need help from the community to make the different.
“Every single person has the power to do something about gun violence,” Korotkin said.