‘Halt The Assault’: Illinois gun violence prevention groups launch statewide campaign

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - National polling suggests two-thirds of adults in the United States support an assault weapons ban. Gun control advocates are launching a new campaign to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in Illinois. Advocates hope the “Halt The Assault” push can finally get an assault weapons ban across the finish line in Springfield.

The Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee said Thursday that 191 Illinois children and teens will die by gun violence this year. Advocates stress that those deaths are preventable.

G-PAC President and CEO Kathleen Sances said Illinoisans are demanding immediate action to address the military-style weapons and it is the top priority for gun violence prevention organizations. Sances said the proposal to ban assault weapons was not deemed politically viable by lawmakers earlier this year. However, there is a renewed push for action following the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park.

Sances noted that Illinois has seen 45 mass shootings since the start of 2022.

“This is about humanity. These are humans,” Sances stressed. “So, if we can make that connection, we can get people to get on board with us. And that’s our job to get that education out.”

G-PAC is working with nearly 200 other organizations across the state to use digital advocacy and paid ads encouraging concerned residents to contact their lawmakers. Their campaign will focus efforts on Bloomington, Champaign, Metro East, Peoria, Springfield, and Quad Cities along with the Chicago suburbs.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul have stated recently that there is no reason people should have that kind of firepower. Pritzker told moderators during the first televised gubernatorial debate that Illinois will ban assault weapons.

“There’s no sporting use for that, no defense use for that,” Pritzker said. “The fact is that we’ve got to do more to get guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them.”

Raoul called the firearms “weapons of war” during an endorsement event with G-PAC leaders. The attorney general said assault weapons can do a lot of damage to shooting targets and unintended people.

“Right now, there are these switches out there that turn a handgun into a fully automatic gun that is impossible to control,” Raoul said. “That is why more and more you hear about young people, infants, getting shot, and that is unconscionable.”

Sances hopes the new campaign will help people realize this is a public health emergency that must be stopped. She explained that some lawmakers are knocking on doors and talking about passing a plan of this magnitude while they campaign.

“I think people should be more concerned about the proliferation of guns in our communities, especially weapons of war like assault weapons and large-capacity magazines,” Sances said.

Advocates would like to see lawmakers pass a ban during the fall veto session or lame-duck period in early January. Sances said Democrats currently don’t have the 71 representatives and 36 senators needed to pass a ban in the fall. However, they would only need a simple majority to pass the bill out of both chambers after January 1.

Giffords, One Aim Illinois, Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and Brady are supporting the Gun Violence Prevention PAC for the Halt The Assault campaign.

“When Congress banned assault weapons, there was a stark decline in the use of these military-style weapons,” said Sean Holihan, the state legislative director for Giffords. “If Illinois were to join the growing list of states that have outlawed these weapons, lives will be spared.”

Illinois gun rights advocates feel that new gun laws won’t stop daily gun violence. Former Rep. Ed Sullivan, now working for the Illinois State Rifle Association, said on September 22 that an assault weapons ban in Illinois would quickly lead to lawsuits by law-abiding gun owners.

Sullivan said the State Rifle Association is willing to work with advocates and lawmakers to address the root causes of gun violence rather than creating more laws restricting gun owners.

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