Thousands wear orange for National Gun Violence Awareness Day

Thousands of people across the U.S. turned America orange, in honor of National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Part of the national campaign is to support gun violence prevention and raise awareness of lives lost by gun violence.  

Saturday, dozens of people gathered in east Austin wearing orange. 

The National Gun Violence Awareness Day website said it's a color traditionally used to evoke safety. Supporters hope the movement will spark change and honor those who have lost their lives either in a school shooting or in a shooting on the streets. 

"I'm wearing this for my son and the others as well. I want people to know and our government to know that we aren't going anywhere and that this is an epidemic and that this is a problem and we need to fix it," said Diana Earl.

Janet Harris and her family came out in support of their daughter, 30-year-old Ebony Sheppard, who was shot and killed six months ago. "To me it was like yesterday, I know these other families feel the same way. It's really heart breaking knowing that these children are dying for nothing," said Harris. 

Last year - a few days after Christmas, Sheppard was gunned down during a robbery rampage in East Austin that left three others injured. Harris said her daughter's death was a senseless act of gun violence. She said every time she hears about a shooting either in school or on the streets she pushes harder for gun reform. "I'm so angry. Something could be done to prevent this all these school shootings they need to do something," said Harris.  

Last month, Governor Greg Abbott took steps addressing gun policies at a roundtable discussion. The 42-page booklet was filled with recommendations from increasing mental health programs for students to having more armed marshals in schools.

Andy Hogue with the Travis County Republican Party agrees with Gov. Abbott and said the nation should be looking closer into mental health as a solution. He said stricter gun regulations aren't the way to resolve the gun violence epidemic in America. "I think mental illness screening is a good idea. That's something we need to do and again I think building stronger communities," said Hogue. 

He said people should follow existing laws. "I think most people who through the process of getting a concealed hand gun license they know how to be safe they've been taught but what we are worried about are the people who are breaking the laws and stealing fire arms. The tightest restrictions we've heard about won't stop that," said Hogue.