Unprecedented Number of Advocates and Survivors Vow to Pass Bill to Curb Record-breaking Gun Violence
SPRINGFIELD January 14, 2021 – Despite outnumbering the gun lobby opposition with tens of thousands of contacts from individual constituents, the Illinois Senate failed to prioritize public safety and pass SB1966, the BIO (Block Illegal Ownership) Bill to Fix The FOID.
Kathleen Sances, the Pres. and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC stated, “While we are incredibly disappointed, our statewide coalition of over 200 organizations that represent children and families impacted by gun violence, especially those from Black and Brown communities, is proud of our relentless, targeted efforts and remains committed to honoring the thousands of gun violence victims killed by an illegal gun through advocating for this meaningful, public safety reform.”
In response to the tragic shootings at Henry Pratt Company and Mercy Hospital, the Illinois House addressed the danger of illegal guns by passing SB1966, which was designed to prevent dangerous people from getting access to and keeping illegal firearms by requiring fingerprints for FOID applicants, closing the person-to-person background check loophole, funding for community mental health services, and prioritizing the removal of guns from people with revoked FOID cards. Yet, despite widespread support calls for its passage from advocates across the state, the bill stalled in the Illinois Senate in May 2019.
While COVID-19 ravaged communities across Illinois, thousands of innocent Illinoisans have been shot, with gun violence remaining a leading cause of death for children and adolescent Black men in our state. During the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention (ILGVP) coalition’s digital day of action over half a million, Illinoisans heard Senate leadership’s promise to prioritize SB1966 to address Illinois’ gun violence crisis. While Illinois state senators failed to act on the bill since it passed the House, 7,752 Illinoisans have been shot, over 100 children were shot and killed, and at least 36,000 illegal guns remain in the hands of people prohibited from owning them. The inaction of senators from both political parties is a betrayal of Illinois communities devastated every day by illegal guns.
During the two years of the campaign to pass the SB1966, the ILGVP coalition effectively mobilized a massive digital organizing presence that drove hundreds of thousands of district-based, constituent contacts to key suburban and collar county lawmakers, including almost 20,000 emails to lawmakers all during one digital day of action. In the weekend leading up to the lame-duck session, the coalition mobilized a final push that flooded the inboxes of these senators, including another 1,000 emails and nearly 200 calls from constituents living in the districts of each state senator undecided on the bill.
Furthermore, statewide polling shows that SB1966 is backed by a broad majority of Illinois residents, including 81% who strongly support closing the dangerous background check loophole. This polling, as well as the incredible number of contacts from individual constituents living in and concerned about gun violence in these districts, is a clear mandate to legislators that their constituents want them to act now to get illegal guns off the street. We are grateful to our Chief Senate sponsor, Senator Julie Morrison, for her leadership on this issue.
“l am deeply disappointed that Senators from both political parties did not push to call SB1966 for a vote. I thank the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition and the tens of thousands of constituents who advocated for the passage of this legislation. This bill helps keep our communities safe by modernizing our FOID card system, and we will not give up until it becomes law. I look forward to reintroducing the bill and working with legislators, on both sides of the aisle, to quickly pass this legislation at the start of the new session.” said Chief House sponsor Leader Kathleen Willis.
Survivor and advocate Delphine Cherry of Hazel Crest added “I am heartbroken that the senators from both political parties played politics with legislation that communities like mine desperately need. The South Suburbs are being devastated by illegal guns and we need the mental health funds that this bill provides to deal with that trauma.” She continued “I look forward to honoring the two children | have lost to illegal guns by working with legislators in Springfield to make sure they stand with survivors like me and pass this bill.”