Gina Pelusi of Upper St. Clair lost her mother, Ruth Ann, about five years ago to a man who shot her after she answered a knock on her door at her Virginia home.
Valerie Dixon of East Liberty lost her son, Robert, in 2001 to a man who shot him with a pistol in Pittsburgh.
Wynona Harper of Penn Hills said her son, Jamar Hawkins, was slain execution style in Penn Hills six years ago.
Richard Carrington, founder and executive director of the Pittsburgh nonprofit Voices Against Violence said he’s been to 203 funerals over the past 20 years for young men and women whose lives were ended by gunshots.
Pelusi, Dixon, Harper, and Carrington joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and others Friday to observe National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Peduto issued a proclamation honoring two anti-violence groups – Moms Demand Action and Everytown For Gun Safety – and declared Friday as Gun Violence Awareness Day in the city.
“I’m here today speaking, showing up wearing orange for all of those who have been taken by gun violence and their loved ones that live with this every day,” Pelusi, 35, said. “We really are a nation of survivors in this country now, and we have to work every day to combat gun violence in all of its forms.”
All wore orange or an orange button in recognition of Hadiya Pendleton, 15, who was shot and killed in Chicago one week after attending President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013. Her friends wore orange in her honor after her death.
Attendees lauded Peduto and Pittsburgh City Council for passing firearms regulations that ban the use of some semi-automatic rifles, ammunition and accessories in the city and authorize courts to temporarily seize guns from a person deemed to be a public threat.
Second Amendment advocates have sued the city over the bills, saying they violate state law and their constitutional right to bear arms. The city has postponed enforcement of the regulations until the lawsuits are settled.
Peduto noted that gun violence continues almost daily in the city. After the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in October, Pittsburgh joined a growing list of cities that have experienced mass murder, he said. Peduto said he emailed Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer last week within two hours after learning a gunman had killed 12 people at the city’s Municipal Center.
He said the City-County Building, Downtown, would be illuminated in orange lights Friday night in recognition of all victims of gun violence.
“We wear orange because we recognize them and know we have to do something for them,” the mayor said. “The constant violence needs to end and the access to the weapons of mass destruction needs to be minimized.”