Hundreds gather at MN Capitol for National Gun Violence Awareness Day

People gathered on the steps of the State Capitol for National Gun Violence Awareness Day in an effort to highlight the 96 people who are killed nearly every day in the United States as a result of gun violence. 

While school shootings get most of the attention, other families suffer due to gun violence as well. 

“When you lose someone close to you like a niece, you get involved,” said Ron Stallings, who lost his niece to gun violence. 

Stallings was among the hundreds of people who gathered on the steps of the State Capitol in St. Paul for the Wear Orange Rally for Peace. 

Stallings’ niece, Wayzata High School graduate Taylor Hayden, was shot and killed in Atlanta in 2016. Her brother, State Senator Jeff Hayden, said she was caught in the crossfire of two rival gangs. 

“It may not be your day, it may not be your child, it may not be your loved one, but gun violence has affected all,” Stallings said. 

Many who attended the rally had their own story about losing a loved one to gun violence, with 96 pairs of shoes representing the lives lost. 

“Our point today is this is a daily toll,” said Erin Zamoff, of Mom Demand Action Minnesota. “And it’s particularly an American crisis, other developed countries don’t have the level of gun violence that we do.” 

They gathered to mourn the lives of their loved ones and to push for solutions.

“Not only background checks and red flag laws, but really have like public health announcements, about locking your guns up so that children can’t get access to firearms and really about gun safety,” Zamoff said. 

“Legislation, mental health—we’ve got to talk about that,” Stallings said. “We have to talk about access to guns, again we can start and that’s the key just starting.” 

While the rally’s tone was not necessarily political, organizers encouraged attendees to register to vote if they haven’t already done so.