SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Representatives held a Public Safety and Violence Prevention hearing on gun control searching for more routes to prevent another tragic mass shooting.
This was the first hearing after the Highland Park mass shooting in northern Illinois earlier this month that killed seven people and wounded dozens.
In the week after the Highland Park shooting, Democratic legislators have reawakened a bill banning semi-automatic rifles
In addition, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday urging both the Illinois legislature and Congress to ban selling semi-automatic rifles.
“Everyday gun violence is ripping apart families here in Cook County and across the state of Illinois, and the General Assembly must take immediate action,” Kathleen Sances, president of the gun control advocacy group G-PAC, said. “The human toll of gun violence will only continue to climb if we don’t see immediate action taken to address this public health crisis.”
But one gun store owner said semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 share many similarities with handguns.
“They are no different than any firearm that’s been available for the last 100-140 years now,” Scott Pulaski, owner of Piasa Armory in Alton said. “It’s one shot per pull of the trigger. They don’t fire any special or different or more deadly ammunition.”
Pulaski said any more legislation needs to come with stricter implementation.
“If the prosecution or law enforcement aren’t able to, or can’t, or don’t want to enforce those laws, then it does not add anything to prevent or deter crime to pass a million new laws,” Pulaski said.
The hearing also discussed community violence prevention through funding programs designed to get children away from gangs.
Illinois’ Department of Human Services is funding over $73 million in youth development grants to create programming for at-risk youth across the state.
“It’s the idea of targeting the students who have been disengaged from school because of COVID and who are at the highest risk of being involved in a cycle of violence,” Chris Patterson, IDHS’ assistant secretary of Gun Violence Prevention, said.
Patterson mentioned new funding working in tandem with Chicago Public Schools to bring kids back to class.
Governor Pritzker also sat down Thursday with the Leaders Network, a group of faith and community leaders from the west side of Chicago to discuss violence prevention.
“We must remove weapons of war from our streets, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of violence,” Pritzker said.