A group committed to fighting gun violence in the U.S. unveiled a memorial of 40,000 white flowers on the National Mall in D.C., representing the victims of gun violence in the country each year.
The memorial was implemented by Giffords, a group led by Gabby Giffords, the former representative from Arizona who was shot in the head at an event in her home state in 2011. Since the shooting, Giffords has been a major proponent of legislation that could curb gun violence in the U.S.
Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler told WTOP the group unveiled the memorial to draw attention to the sheer number of people who fall victim to gun violence annually.
“Forty-thousand Americans die each year from gun violence — we put a flower on the National Mall to represent each of those Americans,” Ambler said. “The holes in American families, communities, schools — the devastation of gun violence in this country.”
RIGHT NOW: @GabbyGiffords, @SpeakerPelosi, @WhipClyburn, @RepLucyMcBath, and @ChrisMurphyCT are standing together at the Gun Violence Memorial on the National Mall, calling on the Senate to pass background checks. #CourageToAct https://t.co/uUvjLrsDuG https://t.co/lyMCFwO8vI
— Giffords (@GiffordsCourage) April 14, 2021
Ambler said the National Mall was chosen because of its proximity to Congress, a means of sending a message that action is needed to address the issue.
“Fundamentally, this is gonna keep happening year after year after year, unless Congress decides to act and passes solutions like universal background checks,” he said.
The group got permission from the National Park Service to set up its display on the National Mall, where it will remain until Friday.
Doug Landry, the artist who designed a memorial for victims of the coronavirus pandemic, created the designs for the installation. Ambler said Landry was the appropriate artist to choose for the job.
“Gun violence over the past year has operated as an epidemic in spite of a pandemic — we saw gun violence spike in greater rates than we’ve seen in decades over the course of 2020,” he said. “As gun violence has grown, we have sought to represent the human cost of this tragedy.”
Ambler said individuals and lawmakers are encouraged to interact with the memorial to get a feel of the scope of the number of victims of gun violence each year.
In the wake of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that claimed the lives of 11 people, President Joe Biden announced his plans to take on several key issues that the group believes will help curb gun violence.
Giffords was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Lucy McBath and Sen. Chris Murphy to unveil the gun violence memorial.
“Words once came easily; today I struggle to speak, but I’ve not lost my voice,” Giffords said. “America needs all of us to speak out, even when the fight to stop gun violence is also a fight forged by tragedy and pain.”
“We can let the shooting continue, or we can act. We can protect our families and our future — we can vote,” Giffords said. “We can be on the right side of history; please join us in this fight.”