Friday kicked off National Gun Violence Awareness Weekend nationwide, and here in Missoula several businesses and locations have adopted the signature orange color that symbolizes gun violence awareness.

Be SMART Missoula leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Dannette Fadness has details of the events in Missoula.

“Today (Friday) kicks off the national Gun Violence Awareness weekend across the country and we wear orange to demand a future free from gun violence,” said Fadness. “Orange symbolizes the value of each person's life and we wear it to honor those taken and wounded by gun violence and are calling for an end to this crisis.”

Fadness spoke of some of the businesses that are taking part in the Wear Orange event.

“Here in Missoula, we have around 30 businesses that are going to turn orange in a variety of different ways,” she said. “The Jeannette Rankin Peace Center has a beautiful display in their window,” she said. “Rockin’ Rudy's, and ImagiNation Brewing, also. My family and I went down and turned A Carousel for Missoula orange a couple of days ago. They have new ribbons on the horses’ tails and the lights are orange. We're just kind of turning the world orange for the orange weekend.”

Fadness emphasized the acronym SMART.

“The S is securing your firearm unloaded, locked and out of reach and sight of young people,” she said. “M is modeling good behavior around firearms. ‘A’ is a really important one in the state of Montana. When we looked at about 65% of our households, own firearms, so ‘A’ is for ‘asking’, that’s asking before you send your little people over to other's homes, whether or not they have firearms, and if so if they are secured responsibly.”

She finished the acronym with ‘R’ and ‘T’.

“Recognizing that an unsecured firearm is a risk for suicide, suicide can be very impulsive in as little as five minutes from thought to follow through with access to fatal means, like a firearm,” she said. “About 25% of our suicides are completed in less than five minutes, so it's really important to have responsible storage. ‘T’ is just to talk. Tell everybody you know, start asking that question. Let people know how important it is to secure your firearms.”

Fadness said that gun suicide claims the lives of over 23,000 people in the United States each year.  More than 14,000 people die in gun homicides, and that the United States gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than that of other high-income countries.

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