Illinois lawmakers call for action in the wake of Florida shooting


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks at an event. Biss said on Twitter that “thoughts and prayers aren’t enough” in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Samantha Handler, Assistant City Editor

Illinois politicians and candidates for office called for lawmakers to take action to reduce gun violence following a shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 dead.

On Wednesday afternoon, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people, according to CNN.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday in a post on Twitter that the “only action” Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump have taken on gun violence is making it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase firearms. Durbin cited a bill Trump signed last year that revoked a ban on gun purchases by people who receive disability checks for mental illness or who have been determined unfit to handle their finances.

“Is Congress doing all it can to keep our nation’s students safe from gun violence?” Durbin wrote Thursday in a different Twitter post. “This has to change. It’s long past time we close gaps in our laws that make it easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday that the shooting was “tragic, needless” and that her heart goes out to all the families impacted. She added that there is more Congress can do to prevent violence.

Gubernatorial candidates from both parties also weighed in on the national conversation. State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-42nd) said on Twitter that her heart breaks for the families and teachers at the school.

“Children should feel safe in their schools,” Ives tweeted. “I pray for their healing.”

At a gubernatorial candidate forum in January, Ives said “fathers in the home” would help solve the gun violence problem in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. Democratic candidate Chris Kennedy (Kellogg ’94) blamed Ives for “ignorance and stupidity” with this solution, the Tribune reported.

Kennedy said in a Twitter post that he and his running mate both know the “devastating” impact of gun violence. The son of Ra Joy, Kennedy’s running mate, was killed in a robbery last year.

“We must turn pain into purpose and purpose into action,” Kennedy tweeted. “We must resolve that these mass shootings will not become a fixture of our lives.”

Kennedy also posted his eight-point plan for combating gun violence in Illinois, including providing trauma treatment and mental health services, curbing illegal gun access and revitalizing afflicted communities, according to the plan. He also proposed investing more in public schools and job programs.

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) posted a video of the speech he made after the shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, saying his message then is still true now.

“Offering thoughts and prayers aren’t enough,” Biss said on Twitter, “we have an obligation to enact real change to reduce gun violence and stop the next tragedy.”

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