Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children, according to the most recent data available (2020)
And as Rachel Jacoby — a Highland Park resident and gun-control advocate — pointed out to Highland Park trustees Tuesday night, a child’s ability to effect change is limited.
“My generation (Gen Z) cannot be the sole source of hope and change in our country,” Jacoby said. “Some of us can’t even vote, so we rely on you, our adults, our elected officials to pass laws to keep us safe.
“Vote like your lives depend on it, because ours do.”
The Highland Park City Council followed up the testimony of Jacoby and others with unanimous approval of a resolution calling for the United States and State of Illinois governments to expand gun-safety legislation to included — among other things — a ban on civilian access to assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and body armor.
The resolution also asks for federal and state laws that strengthen background checks of firearms purchasers, red-flag laws that can remove weapons from dangerous individuals, and consequences for illegal gun sellers.
Approval of the resolution was not a surprise. Highland Park is one of few Illinois suburbs that has a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Additionally, Mayor Nancy Rotering has been active and vocal in her pursuit of stronger gun legislation in the weeks since the mass shooting on July 4 in downtown Highland Park.
Rotering has appeared in front of local, state and federal lawmakers — recently providing comments before the Lake County Board, which passed a similar resolution Aug. 9 — and on Tuesday night, she introduced the resolution to the council.
“Mass shootings are a uniquely American problem and Highland Park is not an island,” she said in her statement. “No community is safe until broader action is taken. … No city, town or village should have to endure the devastation and trauma of a mass shooting.”
A federal ban on assault weapons existed from 1994 until 2004, when it was allowed to expire. Since, proposed new versions of a similar band have died in Congress.
Currently, seven states and the District of Columbia have some level of ban on semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity ammunition cartridges. None of the states are located in the Midwest.
In Illinois, bills to ban assault weapons (HB5522 and SB 2510) have welcomed new support in the weeks following the tragedy in Highland Park. Since July 4, the house bill has gained more than 50 new co-sponsors (including local lawmakers Reps. Robyn Gabel and Jennier Gong-Gershowitz), while the senate version has collected 15 new co-sponsors state senators (including Sens. Laura Fine and Julie Morrison).
No action, however, has been taken on either bill in months.
Rotering concluded her support of the call to action by saying it is just the beginning.
“Make no mistake, this is not where we end this fight to save lives,” she said. “We ask others to join us, and trade thoughts and prayers for action.”
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