For the next few days, visitors of the National Mall will be greeted by a somber display of 45,000 flowers below the Washington Monument—memorializing the number of Americans who die annually from gun violence.
A survivor of gun violence herself, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Giffords organization commissioned the memorial, which arrives in DC just as mass shootings are at the forefront of the national and political conversation.
Giffords partnered with Doug Landry, a visual artist who created a Covid-19 flag memorial in September 2020, to set up the first installation of the gun violence memorial in April of 2021 with 40,000 flowers.* The number of flowers on display this year has grown by more than 5,000 since Giffords’s first installment of the gun violence memorial in 2021, as the number of lives lost to gun violence continues to increase annually.
At the other end of the mall, the Giffords organization joined with Representatives Mike Thompson, who chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Jahana Hayes, and Jason Crow, and author Ryan Busse, who gathered in front of the Capitol Building Wednesday morning to call for gun-violence-prevention action.
“We have a responsibility to stand up against the unhinged gun lobby in DC to save lives & protect our communities,” Representative Thomson tweeted.
The gun violence memorial is open for public viewing through Saturday, June 11. Organizers encourage people to visit, reflect, and urge their elected officials to take action.
Specifically, organizers are calling on visitors to urge their representatives to pass universal background checks, and to confirm Steve Dettelbach as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The organizers argue that Dettelbach will make the bureau better-equipped to enforce the gun laws already on the books, and to keep moving forward with bold executive actions from the Biden Administration, such as closing loopholes in the background-checks system, limiting access to firearms and firearms trafficking, and violence intervention.
This article originally misstated the number of flowers in the memorial, and has been corrected.
*An earlier version of this story also incorrectly referenced the “In America:Remember” Covid flag memorial, created by Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg.