Members of Moms Demand Action attend the Illinois House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Protect Illinois Communities Act on Dec. 15.
The demand to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazine bans is gaining momentum. The Illinois House has just passed a gun safety bill that proposes these measures, taking us one step closer to making gun safety a reality in our state.
And the public supports these efforts, too. In fact, two out of three adults in the United States support these bans — a 20% increase from just four years ago — and a majority of voters in Illinois do, too.
With the Senate now preparing to deliberate on this proposed legislation, Illinois has a clear opportunity to stand for gun safety and pass a statewide ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. If we do, we’d become the eighth and 10th states, respectively, in our nation to do so. Illinois can and must be next.
Last summer, our entire country was rocked to the core when a gunman used a high-powered weapon to kill seven individuals and injure dozens more at a July 4 celebration in Highland Park. And over in West Garfield Park, another mass shooting took place that weekend, where four people were shot. Six months later, we have yet to limit access to such weapons of war to other potential bad actors in Illinois. Since then, the senseless killings of people in our state have only continued. By the end of 2022, Illinois had experienced nearly 60 mass shootings in total, with nearly 700 homicides taking place in Chicago alone.
This is unconscionable.
It is for these very reasons that Gun Violence Prevention PAC started the #HaltTheAssault campaign, which calls on our lawmakers to ban military-style weapons. We believe every Illinoisan has a right to live free of gun violence, and are determined to have Springfield join us in seeing our efforts through.
The question now is: Can our lawmakers finally deliver the change Illinois needs?
We believe they can, because they’ve done it before.
Earlier this year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 4383 into law, banning the sale and possession of ghost guns statewide. This legislation allowed Illinois to be a standard-bearer in the country in the fight against such unregulated firearms.
Such actions have put Illinois on the path to making gun safety a reality, and we must continue — even when noted foes stand against progress.
For years, the gun lobby has remained an influential bloc in our state’s politics, forcing an agenda of unlimited and unfettered access to guns in Illinois, while ignoring the toll this has taken on the people of our state. As a result, Illinois has the 9th highest rate of gun homicides in the country, and firearms are the number one cause of death for our children.
This is not the reality we deserve to live in.
Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines appeal to shooters because of their ability to make mass shootings deadlier. In shootings where assault weapons or high-capacity magazines are used, 155 percent more people are shot, and 47 percent more people are killed.
Full stop, there is no reason for such guns to be sold on the civilian market. Despite this, these weapons remain a primary focus of sales for the gun industry.
We must take a hard look at the current state of Illinois and determine what kind of society we’re creating for ourselves and our families. If we are interested in being the kind of state that prioritizes public safety and the wellness of our children, we cannot have such firearms proliferating our streets, threatening to turn them into war zones at a moment’s notice.
With the start of a new year, we have an opportunity to work toward real, lasting change. To come together and continue on the path of gun safety. However, we can’t put off progress for a later date. Time is not on our side. Lives are on the line, and we must ban these dangerous weapons now to ensure no other family or community is devastated by a preventable tragedy. We must act now.
Kathleen Sances is the CEO and President of Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC).
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