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Tampa Bay-area activists to ‘wear orange’ for National Gun Violence Day events this weekend

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A 10-year-old was shot in the arm and shoulder Monday by an 11-year-old in St. Petersburg. According to the SPPD, the gun was brought into the home by 17-year-old Marquis Strickland.

“It’s absolutely tragic,” says Michelle Gajda, Florida chapter leader with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“There is no way for a child to get their hands on a gun that hasn’t first passed through the hands of an adult, ” she said Tuesday, adding that such an incident should in no way be considered an “accidental shooting.”

This Friday, as part of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Moms Demand Action and other activist groups around Florida and the nation are calling for a “wear orange” campaign, which aims to inspire people to do more to save lives from gun violence.

There will be a candlelight vigil taking place at Curtis Hixon Park at 8 p.m. Friday night to honor victims of gun violence.

On Saturday, Moms Demand Action, along with INDIVISIBLE Action Together Tampa Bay, and the folks with Orange KISS (Keep It Safe & Smart) will host what they are calling a family friendly afternoon in Tampa at the Portico (1001 N. Florida Ave.).

“We are determined to get as loud as we can to elevate the voices of gun violence survivors and to stand with them,” Gajda says.

Saturday’s event will feature music, art, games and activities for kids like face painting, as well as speeches by Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa, Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren and former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.

As the Legislative session began in March, Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America visited state lawmakers in Tallahassee to speak out on the plethora of pro-gun bills that were introduced (or reintroduced) like open carry and guns on college campuses. Sarasota Republican state Rep. Greg Steube alone offered 10 separate pro-gun bills. But by the time the session ended earlier this month, most of those bills had died in committee, elating gun control advocates like Gadja.

“Floridians don’t want guns in airports, they don’t want guns in K-12 schools, they don’t want guns on their college campuses, and they don’t want open carry, and those were all measures that the gun lobby put a lot of time and money into getting before the Legislature, and they were unable to make it out of committee,” she says.

So while gun control activists are sighing a bit of relief about what happened in Tallahassee on the legislative front, their thoughts on a policy front are now moving to Washington D.C., where two bills are floating in the House that has drawn their concern.

One is the Hearing Protection Act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Dakota Republican. It would loosen federal regulations and make silencers easier to buy for the general public.

The other bill is the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, which would amend the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.

Saturday’s event at the Portico in Tampa is scheduled from 2 — 5 p.m.

There will also be an event taking place in St. Petersburg on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Gladden Park. 3901 30th Ave N.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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