SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- A new study conducted by a nonprofit advocating for gun control shows Illinois ranks fifth in the country in homicides among Black people. Ninety percent of those victims died from gun violence.
Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann explained why his organization conducts the study each year.
“The goal of our work for this study is to help support community advocates, organizations on the ground working to stop this violence,” said Sugarmann. “At the same time, we’re helping educate policy makers and the public regarding the reality of gun violence in America.”
Kathleen Sances, President of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC, stressed Illinois is leading the nation for all the wrong reasons. In fact, she said the Violence Policy Center’s study only increases the need to pass Senate Bill 568.
“Gun violence is an equity issue,” said Sances. “We must act now to get communities across our state moving in the right direction.”
Democrats have pushed for several gun reform proposals this year to try and find a solution to this problem. One of the plans would increase restrictions for gun owners by requiring fingerprints and increasing background checks.
Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) said Senate Bill 568 would not only address mass tragedies like the 2019 Aurora shooting. He argues it could also address the shootings that take place every day across Illinois.
“There are too many people getting killed by gun violence,” said Villivalam. “One is too many. This legislation needs to move forward in this General Assembly in order for us to reduce gun violence and keep our kids safe.”
Children fear for their safety
Trevon Bosley, a gun survivor from Chicago, lost his brother and cousin in a shooting in his community. He argued lawmakers need to pass this kind of legislation to help save Black children and teens in Illinois.
Bosley said the consequences of lawmakers not taking action will lead to more families losing their loved ones, specially in black and brown communities.
“Young Black children in communities like mine are waiting to be able to go outside without fear of being shot,” said Bosley. “These children are waiting to see what classmates they’ll have to bury during the school year. These families are waiting to see whose funeral they will have to attend next.”
Bosley also asked why state leaders took immediate action to help prevent Illinoisans dying from COVID-19. Yet, when it comes to people dying from gun violence, no action has been taken.
Villivalam’s proposal is stuck in a Senate Committee with less than two weeks left in this legislative session. However, he is currently negotiating with other lawmakers to combine his plan with the ‘Fix the FOID’ proposal to pass a comprehensive gun control bill.
Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) explained he is also in support of the legislation passing. He argued it’s time to end gun violence in all Illinois communities.
“I represent a district where we’ve been doing the same thing over and over again to combat violence and it hasn’t worked,” said Peters. “Justice is going to continue day in and day out because we’re going to organize it and we’re going to win it.”