Less than thirty-six hours after a gunman opened fire at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, resulting in the deaths of seven people, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in the northern suburb on Tuesday evening to push for federal action on assault rifles.
“As a nation, we need to be smarter about who has access to what, particularly assault weapons,” said Harris, who was joined by the mayor of Highland Park and other Democratic lawmakers.
Vice President Kamala Harris Calls for a Nationwide Assault Weapons Prohibition!
And we must treat this matter seriously. The entire nation should comprehend and empathize with the possibility that this could occur anyplace in a peaceful society. And we must stand united and speak out about why this must end.”
Harris advocated earlier in the day for reinstating a national ban on assault weapons.
“We have more to do. We have much to do. Harris addressed a group of educators at the National Education Association conference at McCormick Place in Chicago, “Congress must have the fortitude to act and renew the prohibition on assault weapons.”
“We require sensible firearm safety laws. And we must convince Congress to cease shielding gun makers from accountability. Remove it. “Revoke it”
A few hours later, in a brief address delivered in the heart of Highland Park, Harris conveyed President Joe Biden’s condolences.
“Know that an entire nation cares profoundly about you and stands by your side. This is an extremely close-knit community. I am aware,” Harris responded. “This individual will be brought to justice, but it will not alter what has occurred. And we are here for you and stand by your side.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for a state-level ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines while also advocating for comparable federal action only hours before Harris’s visit to Highland Park.
Pritzker stated in a statement, “We urgently need federal restrictions on weapons of war and high capacity magazines that are only used for mass slaughter.”
“Illinois is not an island, and despite having some of the tightest gun restrictions in the country, our state is only as safe as the states with the worst gun laws, many of which border Illinois.”
Harris and Pritzker’s remarks came amid a nationwide discussion about horrific shootings and gun control attempts. Pritzker’s opponent in the fall, the Republican nominee Darren Bailey, a state senator from Downstate Xenia, is a passionate proponent of gun rights who opposes weapons limits.
On Tuesday, Bailey continued to distance himself from remarks he made after the massacre by posting a video on Facebook in which he prayed for the victims and law enforcement and said, “Let’s go on and celebrate” the holiday.
Tuesday, Bailey took to Twitter to refute this view and ask the public to “commit to better treating mental health in Illinois and throughout the nation.”
In addition, Bailey attempted to link the Highland Park parade shooting to the holiday weekend shooting of a 10-year-old boy on Chicago’s South Side, despite the fact that Highland Park is a wealthy suburb 30 miles north of Chicago.
“My staff and I will continue to reach out to law enforcement, public health professionals, and others to find practical solutions to these concerns,” Bailey stated.
“We will also continue to advocate for a special (state legislative) session to adequately support mental health services and law enforcement so that public safety is a top concern in EVERY town.”
State Representative Bob Morgan, a Democrat from Deerfield who represents Highland Park, stated that while money for mental health should be raised and training to identify problematic children can be enhanced, “we have yet to find the fortitude to outlaw assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
“There were police officers at every corner of the route,” said Morgan, who was about to leave the celebration with his wife and two children when shots were fired. Therefore, adding more police personnel would not have prevented the crime. So what could have prevented it?”
Recent efforts in Illinois to prohibit or restrict the sale and possession of assault weapons have failed. In the years following, neither the state House nor the state Senate has even held a committee vote on a proposal to ban assault weapons that were introduced in either chamber.
State Representative Maura Hirschauer, a Democrat from Batavia who helped found a chapter of the anti-gun violence organization Moms Demand Action, introduced in January a bill that, with a few exceptions, would prohibit the sale or possession of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. The plan has not left the committee stage.
Last year, the General Assembly enacted a bill to tighten background checks for gun transactions and solve flaws that have allowed individuals to keep their firearms after losing their weapon owner’s identity cards. Hirschauer stated that it is time to take more drastic action.
It’s time to outlaw assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, she remarked.
Downstate Democrats have typically been the most resistant to stronger gun regulations, and Hirschauer said it’s “difficult to predict” how Monday’s events will impact that dynamic.
Ed Sullivan, a contract lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association, believes that addressing “economic inequities and institutional racism” would be a more effective means of combating violence than improving gun restrictions.
Sullivan, a former Mundelein, Illinois, state representative from the Republican Party, also highlighted that while legislators had introduced bans on assault rifles throughout the years, he questioned the viability of such legislation.
“There are politicians who have certain notions regarding gun regulation, and we accept everyone’s opinions,” Sullivan stated.
“At the end of the day, we witnessed a psychotic violating the law. Therefore, if you outlaw assault rifles in Illinois, they will still exist, and only law-abiding citizens will be affected.”