Marchers rally in Wilmington for an end to gun violence

"We can end gun violence" read the signs and a large banner held by a group of people on the steps of Rodney Square in Wilmington Friday.

Many of them wore orange, a color of significance on National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

However, on a day that was supposed to honor victims of gun violence, politics and the issue of gun laws and gun control were still simmering.

According to Sarah Stowens of Delaware Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, orange was the color worn by friends of Hadiya Pendleton in her honor after she was shot to  death in Chicago, just a week after she performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

It's also the color worn by hunters.

"We wear orange, then, to honor those who are killed by guns and because we want to keep people safe moving forward," Stowens said.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer stated that in 2019, a year in which cars drive themselves, "we must be able to find a way together to stop human beings in this country from pulling a trigger to kill each other."

Jonathan Guessford of Smyrna also wore orange and carried a sign, but he was there to send a totally different message. Guessford believes there remains an agenda to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Delaware.

"Gun violence is a misnomer. Guns don't commit violence," Guessford said. "People commit violence. There is no such thing as gun violence. There's violence carried out by human beings with varying tools."

Harlan Hawkins displayed a quilt with pictures of people who have been killed by gun violence. The victims included his sister, whose daughter he has raised and just finished high school.

"I don't want to take guns away from law abiding citizens. I want to take guns away from criminals doing criminal things," Hawkins said.

The rally came just weeks after three bills related to guns stalled in the General Assembly. Senate President pro tem David McBride (D- New Castle) said they would not be debated on the floor this year. The bills would have banned what many call assault weapons, restricted magazine capacity and required a permit to purchase a firearm.

In a statement, Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm said the party remains "committed as ever to pushing for progress on gun safety in Dover and in Washington, and we'll continue to recruit, support and elect gun sense candidates that will ensure that reason triumphs over the sinister gun lobby and those it has deployed to thwart progress."

Senator Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) said Friday was not about pursuing new laws or engaging in the gun control debate.

"It's about coming together as a community and literally mourning for a few moments those we've lost and talking about the importance of coming together, being committed and moving forward," Townsend said.

Wear Orange events are being held in many communities across the country this weekend.

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.