Orange and gun-metal gray did not exactly mix, nor did they clash, on Saturday in downtown Hood River.
The City of Hood River’s Gun Take Back Day drew a dozen owners of guns and ammunition to the first-ever event, at the Police Department in City Hall at Second and State streets.
Meanwhile, across the street at Overlook Memorial Park, citizens staged the first “Wear Orange” event, part of the national Moms Demand Action campaign for gun safety. The organization describes itself as “a non-partisan, grassroots movement to mobilize moms, dads and friends to advocate for stronger gun laws.” (Details on Moms Demand Action, page A8.)
Police chief Neal Holste said of Gun Take Back Day, “For a first-time event, and for a six-hour window for people to come in, it went well.
“It was a coincidence that we held it on the same day, but we planned it awhile back and it just worked out on the same day,” Holste said. “I’d like to say it was all in line, but that’s not the case.
“We got quite a bit of ammunition, and a total of 10 guns; nine of them were long rifle style, one semi-automatic pistol, and a piece of a barrel,” Holste said. “It went real well. I had a couple of individuals who said they had inherited this gun, never had an idea of how to get rid of it, and they appreciated the opportunity. One lady said she had had he late husband’s gun for a long time and said, ‘I never knew what to do with it, so I just left it there.’ We had a number of great statements like that. This (Take Back Day) was not political, it was a free service: if you have a gun and don’t want it, here is your opportunity.”
Holste said the department would repeat the event, but no date has been set.
“This was for people who don’t want to have guns or ammo in their homes, but didn’t have a safe way to deal with them,” Holste said. He said he and his officers pointed out to some of the respondents Saturday that their gun might have value if taken to a licensed dealer.
“But people said that’s not the point, they did not want the money, just wanted it off their hands,” Holste said.
The face-painting and other Wear Orange outreach spread around downtown to Hood River Farmers’ Market and other locations, but the information table and orange décor was based at Overlook park.
Volunteers provided orange stickers and did orange-face painting in the effort to call attention to actions individuals can take, just as hunters wear orange for their safety and the safety of others. One sign read, “We have cheese balls,” and the snack food, along with whole oranges, was served.
Overlook Park was festooned with orange ribbon and orange-clad supporters held signs reading “We Can End Gun Violence” and other messages. The Hood River organizers signed people up for the upcoming launch of the Chapter on sheets that contained a box to be checked, “I’m A Gun Violence Survivor.” Volunteers from Indivisible, organized by Bonnie New, roamed the streets offering orange face painting and giving away orange bandanas.
“Even though we might have personal beliefs as in wishing there were no guns, the group and our tactic (is) for just reducing gun violence here. It is not to say we’re anti-gun. It’s just to say that ‘if you have a firearm, store it safely,” said Jennifer Wright-Giorgi, who is founding the Moms Demand Action chapter in Hood River with her sister, Suzanne Wright Baumhackl.
“Most Americans are for common sense gun laws, not banning, just common sense laws,” she said.
Baumhackl will be trained to train people about safe gun storage and said that “some of our fundraising will be focused on giving gun safes to people who can’t afford them,” a program known as “Be SMART.”
The orange décor was carried across the street as the Wright sisters strung some of the orange ribbon in front of City Hall, but Holste asked them to remove it.
“They were very understanding,” Holste said. “I just told them that it’s fine to decorate at the park, but the police station and city hall really can’t be decorated that way, just in the interest of our being neutral as a public entity.”
MOMS DEMAND ACTION
The group is on Facebook and Twitter, or go to momsdemandaction.org.
The group’s official statement is that “We can support the Second Amendment while doing much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and create a culture of responsible gun ownership.” The group advocates for:
- Closing loopholes in background systems
- Promoting gun safety so children and communities will no longer be at an “unacceptable level of risk.”
- Supporting reasonable limits on when, where and how loaded guns are carried and used in public places;
- Creating enforceable laws that “address gun trafficking and fraudulent purchasing to keep illegal guns off our streets.”