Just moments before the end of session, the state legislature moved swiftly to pass the act as a significant win for the gun violence prevention movement, setting a model for the nation.
Springfield, IL — Today, the Illinois State Legislature passed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which includes a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, rapid-fire “switches,” increases Firearm Restraining Orders from 6 months to a year, and addresses illegal gun trafficking. March For Our Lives organizers in Illinois joined over 100 gun safety advocates to pressure the legislature to act urgently and quickly to save lives. Chilling testimony from gun violence survivors portrayed precisely what’s at stake: our lives and the lives of young people. We’re pleased to see that legislators listened and put the safety of their constituents first.
“Youth activists and gun violence survivors have been fighting for this essential legislation for years and today, we win,” said Rachel Jacoby, a youth member of March For Our Lives from Highland Park, IL. “All young people have been touched by gun violence, whether it’s the daily gun violence in city streets, losing a loved one to suicide or domestic violence, the trauma of school shooting drills, or mass shootings like the one in my community six months ago. This legislation addresses the many different types of gun violence that affect Illinoisans all across the state. It even could have prevented the seven lives lost and countless lives impacted in my hometown. I’m proud of the community members who fought to make this a reality—we are saving lives.”
“The idea that our lives are more important than gun industry dollars is almost unheard of by elected officials, but it is refreshing to see here in Illinois that things can be different,” said Trevon Bosley, a board member of March For Our Lives from Chicago, IL. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the Protect Illinois Communities Act will save countless lives, but we can’t dust off our hands as if the job is done. The gun violence epidemic that took the life of my brother, Terrell, and my cousin, Vincent, is still ravaging Black, brown, and poor communities in Illinois and across the country. We have cleared a major hurdle in the race toward ending gun violence but many more are ahead of us.”
This landmark legislation will reduce suicide, domestic violence, and daily gun violence from devastating communities. Illinois will be placed among eight other states and D.C. with some form of an assault weapon ban. While we wish the bill had tighter limits, like closing the domestic gun violence loophole, we’re pleased to see this bill clear the legislature and are eager to see Governor Pritzker sign the bill as soon as possible.
Six times as many people are shot when assault weapons are used in a mass shooting, and this is an important step forward. Six months after the deadly shooting in Highland Park, and seven months after the horrifying massacre of children in Uvalde, Texas, the US Senate has still utterly failed in its basic moral obligation to keep Americans safe and to bring an assault weapons ban to a vote. Illinois lawmakers stepped up and recognized how necessary this legislation is to protect the lives of millions in Illinois. There is much left to be done in Illinois before gun violence is a relic of the past, but this is a monumental step in the right direction