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Has blaze orange become the anti-gun color?

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Capitol was a tapestry speckled with blaze orange Thursday, Feb. 22.

It wasn't deer hunting season. It was a major gun control rally.

Blaze orange, aka hunter orange (and briefly aka tangerine tango), has traditionally been the fashion dominion of gun-toting hunters or construction workers. The color is legally required during some fall hunting seasons in Minnesota, Wisconsin and scores of other states as a safety measure — so hunters can see each other and not shoot each other.

But now it's an anti-gun hashtag: #WearOrange has been a call to (non-)arms for gun-control rallies around the nation, such as those that have swelled recently following a mass shooting at a Florida school.

"I think it's appropriate," said Dana Dickson, a Brooklyn Park resident who donned his blaze orange hunting shirt and brimmed grouse hunting hat to join Thursday's "Protect Minnesota" rally. "We hunters wear it because it's visible — so people don't get shot. That's why we're here: so people don't get shot."

It started in Chicago

Protect Minnesota adopted the color two years ago, according to Cheryl Persigehl, past board chair of the 27-year-old organization.

She and others in the movement trace the origins of the color co-opt to 2013, when a group of Chicago students wore orange to honor Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl shot and killed a week after performing at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

To this reporter's eye, most of the the gun control garb donned Thursday was a shade duller that the hue one will find among the racks of Fleet Farm or Cabela's come fall, but demonstrator Michael Darger said the idea isn't to create a distinction.

"We have common ground," Darger said. "None of us want gun violence."