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Illinois politicians call for more gun safety measures following Santa Fe High School shooting

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) speaks at an event. Duckworth tweeted on Tuesday that the number of children lost to gun violence is “sickening.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) speaks at an event. Duckworth tweeted on Tuesday that the number of children lost to gun violence is “sickening.”

Daily file photo by Sam Schumacher

Daily file photo by Sam Schumacher

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) speaks at an event. Duckworth tweeted on Tuesday that the number of children lost to gun violence is “sickening.”

Samantha Handler, Assistant City Editor

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Illinois politicians and candidates called for Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republicans in Congress to take action to prevent gun violence in the wake of last week’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

On Friday, a 17-year-old gunman and student at the school opened fire, killing 10 and wounding 13. The New York Times reported that the student confessed to the shooting and said he spared students he liked so he could “have his story told.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote in a Tuesday tweet that it is “sickening” that more children in schools have lost their lives this year than deployed service members: There were 13 non-training military deaths so far in 2018 versus 27 student deaths in school shootings, according to a Washington Post report.

“When my daughters are old enough and I send them to school, I hope they won’t face the dangers in their classrooms like I did on the battlefield,” Duckworth, a veteran, wrote. “Our children — the American people — deserve better than this sort of cowardice in the face of so much preventable violence.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) wrote in a Friday tweet that the National Rifle Association and its “allies” in Congress stand in the way of creating a solution. She added that as students continue to demonstrate and demand action, the Republicans have “dug in their heels” and done “nothing.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also called on Rauner to pass state-level gun reform. On March 13, Rauner vetoed a bipartisan gun dealer licensing bill, which would have made it illegal for a person to sell, lease or transfer firearms without a license issued by the Department of Professional and Finance Regulation.

Even after Illinois lawmakers amended the bill to address one of Rauner’s concerns — having Illinois State Police certify gun dealers instead of the Department of Professional and Finance Regulation — Rauner called the effort “political grandstanding,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Pritzker said in a Friday statement that Rauner was playing “the lowest form of election-year politics” by continuing to oppose the bill while lives are on the line.

“This callous governor vetoed a commonsense Gun Dealer Licensing Act that would have helped keep families and communities safe,” Pritzker said. “It’s past time for this failed governor to put people before politics and do something about the senseless gun violence ravaging our communities.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Durbin said that Illinois needs to mimic the 15 states — including Florida and Kansas — that have passed legislation to prevent gun violence since the Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting.

He added that he hopes Rauner will not veto the revised gun dealer licensing bill as the state-level reforms are “significant.” Durbin called on Congress to listen to students rather than gun lobbyists.

“We may not be able to stop every shooting in our schools and in our streets,” Durbin said, “but if Congress takes meaningful action to close gaps in our gun laws, we will save lives.”

Twitter: @sn_handler