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Mothers, teachers express frustration with gun violence at 'Wear Orange' event at State House

'Wear Orange' is part of a nationwide effort calling for action against gun violence.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The grounds of the South Carolina State House were filled, on Saturday, with people wearing a bright color and holding up posters with a common message: "How many more must die?"

The event was part of a push to bring an end to gun violence as part of a nationwide "Wear Orange" initiative - an effort that also follows recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and even closer to home in Charleston. 

Jennifer Duffy, who attended the event with her husband and two kids expressed her frustration. 

"I'm really upset by the violence we've been seeing both here in Columbia and in other places of the country," she said. 

Recent tragedies like the shooting of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas are challenging for her to bear and hit close to home, she said. 

"As a parent, I'm frustrated and it breaks my heart. Our kids are five and seven and, in first grade and kindergarten," she said. "And they've already done shooter drills and active shooter drills in their school because their teachers and their school want to be prepared and to keep them safe. 

It's terrible that they even have to prepare for such an event, she added.

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Duffy isn't alone in having these feelings of fear regarding school shootings. Kamae Jayaweera is a teacher in a Midlands school district and feels it regularly.

"Any day I walk into the classroom, it could be me, it could be my kids and they live with that fear every day," she said. "And I live with that fear every day. By showing up here today, I felt like I had to come out and do something." 

RELATED: Father of Uvalde victim regrets not going inside school himself

She hopes the turnout and messages on the posters reach the eyes of lawmakers and can inspire change. 

"Politicians aren't taking action and so they need to see a group of people out here, you know?" she said. "I think the majority of Americans, they support these common-sense gun laws."

She added that the goal isn't to take guns away.

"That's not what we're saying - let's start with small changes, better background checks, mental health red flag laws, things like that," Jayaweera said. 

The event also featured groups including Moms Demand Action, Be Smart, and Columbia Police Department. 

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