POLITICS

Families Affected By Gun Violence Speak Out: 'I Was Silent And Angry For Far Too Long'

June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Thursday is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and people across the country are wearing orange to honor victims and survivors of gun violence. 

As part of The Huffington Post's parent-child interview series Talk To Me, MomsRising.org and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are sharing stories of people who will be wearing orange in honor of their loved ones.

Jeanette Richardson's son, Patrick, was shot and killed in 2004 at the age of 18. In an interview with her younger son, Bryce, Richardson said she's speaking out against gun violence to honor Patrick's memory. 

"It just makes no sense that we make it so easy," she said of buying a gun. 

Bryce shared his fears about how easily guns can be obtained, as Congress has failed to expand background checks for firearms purchases. 

"It's the same as just going out and getting a bag of bread," he said. "It's just that easy. We shouldn't be able to have that."  

Watch Jeanette's conversation with her son above.

Khary Penebaker's mother committed suicide with a gun when he was a small child. In a conversation with his daughter, Penebaker said the loss of his mother taken an immense toll on his life, but it wasn't until after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that he began to speak publicly about his experience. 

"I can choose to allow this to own me, or I can own it," he said. "And I decided to do something good with it instead of allowing it to consume me." 

Penebaker, who is running for Congress in Wisconsin, said getting involved with advocacy groups like Moms Demand Action and Everytown helped him "feel empowered" to share his story. 

"This isn't something we can be silent about," he told his daughter. "I was silent and angry for far too long. I believe I owe it to myself, I owe it to you and your brother and sister and my wife and to my mother to do something positive with our my story, our family's story, so that fewer people have to live with the nightmare I do." 

The Wear Orange movement was started by friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago girl who was shot and killed days after performing at President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. Pendleton would have turned 19 on Thursday.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an average of 89 people die from gun violence in the United States every day. 

UPDATE: More #TalkToMe parent-child videos about gun violence are being posted (here's how to make your own). Josh Stepakoff was just 6 years old when he was shot by a neo-Nazi who had opened fire in a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. Now 23, Josh interviewed his mom Loren about the life-long impact that the shooting has had on their family. "Too many people seem just to be willing to accept the level of gun violence that we have in the United States," she said. "I'm not willing to accept that."

Two of Hollye Dexter's loved ones survived encounters with gun violence; first her 7-year-old brother, then her best friend. After Sandy Hook, she said, "That's it. I can't go on as normal anymore. I have to do something." She's now board co-chair for Women Against Gun Violence and works as a gun violence prevention activist. Her brother Christopher survived with traumatic brain injury and still has the bullet in his head.

This Father’s Day, join HuffPost and Facebook in New York’s Madison Square Park and record your own parent-child interview in a beautiful Facebook Live studio booth. Not in NYC? No problem. You can make your own video from home.

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