Local advocacy group continues the fight against gun violence

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COLUMBIA - Advocates are vowing to take a stand on gun violence, and promote gun safety to their communities.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a national organization consisting of women and men working to make the world safer and reduce gun-related problems.

Kirstin Bowen, leader of Columbia's chapter, said the group makes it their main priority to let lawmakers know that they are working to end major gun issues.

"We focus on both statewide and national priorities fighting for stronger gun safety legislation both in Missouri and nationally by speaking out to our leaders and asking them to take a stand for common sense gun laws," she said.

The organization also works to educate people in the community.

"We look to promote gun sense, and safety education practices through a campaign that we call 'Be Smart' that invites people to practice safe storage of firearms in the home to keep our kids safe," Bowen said.

Jalen Edwards, a community member, has been affected by gun violence.

"I had a friend who almost got killed because of gun violence and a friend who did get killed by gun violence, and the situation didn't need to be taken that far," he said.

Edwards feels organizations like Moms Demand Action can help create a change.

"They bring a lot of awareness and they make it impossible not to hear the voices of the people," he said.

Moms Demand Action has chapters in all 50 states in the US. The organization was founded in 2012 by Shannon Watts. It was started as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

On Friday the Columbia chapter is hosting a family-friendly "Wear Orange Picnic" at Douglass Park.

June 1st serves as the 4th Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day. People are encouraged to wear orange, in honor of those affected by gun violence.

"This event is to say it's enough, there so much more that needs to be done to address this crisis and we need our leaders to act. That's why we are coming together to use our voices to say that to our leaders in this country," Bowen said.

The organization is open to everyone, who is a supporter of their cause.

The picnic is at 4 p.m.