Names of gun violence victims to be displayed Friday in Greenfield, Easthampton

  • On National Gun Violence Awareness Day in 2017, a group wearing orange encouraged gun safety on the Greenfield Common. This year, a collection of names of gun violence victims will be displayed on the common instead of having a gathering. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • On National Gun Violence Awareness Day in 2017, a group wearing orange encouraged gun safety on the Greenfield Common. This year, a collection of names of gun violence victims will be displayed on the common instead of having a gathering. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2020 1:14:40 PM

GREENFIELD — To commemorate National Gun Violence Awareness Day, millions of people across the country will wear orange on Friday, honoring those who were killed by, or are survivors of, gun violence.

Locally, two concurrent events, in Greenfield and Easthampton, will honor victims of gun violence by featuring their names written on orange ribbons. The collection of names will be displayed on the Greenfield Common on Court Square and at 50 Payson Ave. in Easthampton at 5 p.m.

Those who wish to honor someone who was killed by or is a survivor of gun violence can send the person’s name, and which of the two towns they’d like it displayed in, to Leyden resident Robin Neipp, who helped organize the events, at rneipp.ma@gmail.com.

This is the fourth year that Neipp and volunteers have offered events locally, working alongside Wear Orange and Mom’s Demand Action.

“‘Wear Orange’ is an event to remember those lost and those that need support as survivors of gun violence,” Neipp explained. “It is an event to increase awareness of the ongoing loss, devastation and cost of gun violence in this country.”

Orange is the color Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore to honor her after she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15. Wear Orange encourages people to wear orange to honor gun violence victims and demand action.

“Part of Mom’s Demand Action is to get involved and work on city gun violence,” Neipp continued. “Since September, we have been meeting in the Holyoke Public Library, and supporting local organizations working so hard in Springfield to address this issue and the reality that they live — and die — with.”

In addition to featuring the names of gun violence victims in Greenfield and Easthampton, on Thursday in Springfield, the S.O.S. “Save Our Streets” Remembrance Drive will be held at 5:30 p.m., starting from the New Hope Pentecostal Church parking lot at 364 Central St. Attendees will gather to draw awareness to the effects of violence as they drive by the last known locations of violence victims, where families will speak about their loved ones.

Continuing the conversation

Neipp said she recognizes this to be an especially tough time for many, given the ongoing public health crisis. As a result, she struggled with whether it was appropriate to continue holding events this year, but said she knew it was important to carry on as fatal shootings have continued and controversy surrounding guns appears in the news regularly.

As a former emergency room nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Neipp has personally helped several patients with gunshot wounds. She said she became involved with Wear Orange after reading an article about a child who died after accidentally discharging a gun that was kept under a parent’s pillow. This also happened to be around the time of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, someone is killed with a gun every 38 hours in Massachusetts, totaling approximately 230 people a year. An average of 100 people in Massachusetts die by gun homicide each year.

In an effort to limit gun violence, Mom’s Demand Action has advocated for “Red Flag” laws and extreme risk protection orders, which Neipp explained empower families and law enforcement to prevent gun-related tragedies by temporarily removing access to guns for individuals with an elevated risk of endangering themselves or others.

“This law allows the guns to be temporarily removed,” Neipp said. “It gives someone a chance to get some help.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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