BRUNSWICK — 172 Mainers were killed by guns in 2017, a number that to Nacole Palmer and the members of Moms Demand Action say is unacceptable.

The first weekend in June is Gun Violence Awareness Weekend, and in Brunswick on June 8, supporters will wear orange and walk down Maine Street to “look to a brighter future and to envision a reduction in gun violence in our own communities,” according to a press release from Moms Demand Action, a national organization that “campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families.”

The organization is a branch of Everytown for Gun Safety, a national group that advocates for stricter gun regulations. The weekend was created to remember the life of Hadiya Pendelton, a 15-year-old student who was killed in Chicago.

Now, those lost to gun violence and those affected by it will be remembered and honored through “Wear Orange” events nationwide.”

Maine’s own firearm deaths, which average around 150 per year, are largely attributed to suicide, followed by domestic violence. Approximately 227 people die by suicide each year in Maine, 52% of which involve firearms, according to a 2018 report from the Maine Suicide Prevention Program.

The suicide rate in Maine is 30% above the national average for people age 20 to 24 according to the Maine Gun Safety Coalition.


Maine ranks ninth in the nation in the rate of women killed by men. A loophole in current state law allows domestic abusers and felons to purchase guns without a background check, the organization reported, adding “The unrestricted sale of guns in Maine significantly increases the risk of domestic violence deaths, suicides, hate crimes and homicides.”

“So many of those (gun deaths) are tragedies that could be avoided,” said Kim Wilson, a volunteer with Maine Moms Demand Action in the release. “Our event in Brunswick will help honor those we’ve lost and bring focus to ways we can prevent future violence.”

Palmer, the group’s legislative lead said the group is calling on people contact lawmakers and speak in favor of several bills before the legislature, including a controversial Red Flag bill or “extreme risk protection order.”  This would allow families and law enforcement to petition the court to take away a person’s firearms if the court decides the person is a danger to themselves or others.

A second bill, a safe storage bill addresses the storage of guns they are kept away from children or teens who might want to “play” with gun or who are susceptible to teen suicide.

“Keeping guns away from children is the responsibility of the adult,” she said. A third bill that Palmer and Maine Moms Demand Action supports is one supporting background checks for all private firearm sales in Maine, whether they are made at a gun show or in response to a classified ad. A legislative committee endorsed the bill Tuesday, 7-5.

“Every two to three days there’s a Mainer being killed (by gun violence),” Palmer said, adding that she hopes the event next week will “remember them, bring attention to some of the issues and inspire change.”


Palmer first became involved in gun safety advocacy after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. She was living in Connecticut at the time and had just “one degree of separation” from three of the children who were killed.

Brunswick has hosted a “Wear Orange” event for the past two years, and in 2018 the turnout jumped from around 40 in 2017 to more than 100 — something Palmer said she hopes to see repeated. This year organizers have also added live music and family-friendly activities on the mall after the walk.

There will also be a display called “If the Shoe Fits,” featuring 150 pairs of shoes to represent the Mainers lost through gun violence each year.

“It helps people to realize they are not just numbers on a page,” Palmer said, “they’re mothers and fathers and brothers and kids whose families miss them. We hope people will be spurred to action.”

The walk starts at 10 a.m. June 8. If it rains the event will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick. 

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