AUGUSTA, Maine — On Saturday, June 3, fluorescent orange hats, jackets, and umbrellas cut through an otherwise dreary and rainy late morning. Dozens of Mainers gathered at Capitol Park in Augusta, bringing attention to gun violence.
The Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action and the Maine Gun Safety Coalition put on this rally, which included a line of speakers from gun safety advocates to domestic violence experts to teachers. It marked the start of National Gun Violence Awareness Month and Wear Orange weekend when people are encouraged to wear traditional hunting colors to call for responsible gun ownership and an end to gun violence.
"How many deaths will it take until he knows that too many people have died?" Marissa McCue Armitage, an elementary school teacher in Maine, sang Bob Dylan's lyrics to the crowd. She also recounted her experiences going through active shooter trainings at her school.
"I knew that if I was going to stay in this country as a teacher and a mother, I had to get involved in this movement," Armitage said.
Many of the Mainers at Saturday's rally brought homemade signs calling for a ban on assault weapons and sensible gun laws. Speakers at the rally said 120 Americans die per day as a result of gun violence.
"How do children feel when they return to school after a lockdown? How do parishioners return to church after a shooting? What about Walmart shoppers who have been forced to lay on the ground to avoid stray bullets? Do they ever return to the store?" Cam Shannon, chair of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, asked.
Organizers like Kathy McFadden, the Maine Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action, said Saturday's turnout in a downpour could point to a sign of hope in this conversation as a whole.
"I think as more and more people are impacted personally, they know someone, a neighbor, somebody has been impacted by suicide, the social consciousness around this issue is rising, and that makes me optimistic," McFadden said.
The Wear Orange weekend runs from June 2 to 4.