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Kansas City-area organizations, survivors bring awareness to gun violence, need for gun safety

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Posted at 4:01 PM, Jun 07, 2024

MISSION, Kan. — Friday kicked off Wear Orange Weekend, which honors survivors of gun violence and brings awareness to the need for gun safety.

Moms Demand Action, Lives on the Line and Grandparents for Gun Safety will be leading a collective rally on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Harmon Park in Prairie Village.

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“This weekend of wearing orange is about honoring and recognizing the survivors and the victims of gun violence," said DeeDee Cooper, the wear orange coordinator for Johnson County Moms Demand Action. "We’re not really talking about gun legislation or the right and wrong of gun decision."

Cooper is one of the key organizers of Saturday’s rally.

The event will shed light on nearly 43,000 U.S. lives lost in 2023 to gun violence and serve as an opportunity for education and awareness.

”Innocent people being shot, killed, whether they are at a concert or a parade or at a movie or a grocery store, how can we not talk about that?" Cooper said. "I cannot imagine anything more painful than not talking about it. So here we are — talking about it, raising awareness, informing people of different avenues to make a safer world."

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Connie Ross, who recently found her community in Grandparents for Gun Safety, says becoming involved in the movement gives her second chance at life a purpose.

On the night of Jan. 5, 1985, an argument over a business led to a series of shootings.

She was an innocent bystander with her two kids, on their way to her in-laws, when she was shot through the elbow and abdomen.

“Three people died for no reason that night,” Ross said. “It just made us appreciate how special life is and how quick it can be gone.”

Going forward, Ross would like to see registration of guns, an implementation of a waiting period, and even required training for gun owners.

While she believes gun will always exists, she wants to play a part in making them safer.

“I thought if one of these gun locks can save one child, you know, it would be worth all this time,” Ross said. “It makes me feel again that, you know, I’m here for a reason; I can change things a little bit.”