* Kathleen Sances is president and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee in the Sun-Times…
Every spring and summer, news headlines tell the tragic stories and statistics of the people lost and the communities devastated by gun violence. This year’s headlines have been dominated by COVID-19, but the loss and devastation has been just as great.
Unfortunately, gun violence in Illinois hasn’t stopped because of COVID-19, and the same communities most impacted by this epidemic are the same ones now also suffering from the COVID-19 disaster.
Across Illinois, while we’ve all been under orders to “stay at home,” gun violence is up 6 percent, unintentional shootings have increased and calls to domestic violence and suicide hotlines continue to grow. And in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods, hospitals are struggling to attend to both COVID patients and shooting victims, as these communities grapple with the convergence of two deadly disasters. We must stop these trends before more lives are lost.
While these numbers are a sobering illustration of the deadly intersection of COVID-19 and gun violence, there is hope. The Illinois’ General Assembly is about to reconvene for a special session focused on the COVID crisis and other disasters. There, lawmakers have the opportunity to address our state’s gun violence epidemic by passing SB 1966, the BIO Bill, which will expand background checks to all gun sales. This life-saving law will reduce the flow of illegal guns by depriving the illegal market of a loophole that allows people deemed too dangerous to own a firearm to acquire them with no questions asked. […]
During the [Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition’s Digital Day of Action] event, Senate President Don Harmon said he is committed to taking the BIO Bill over the finish line. We urge his colleagues in the Senate to demonstrate the same courage. Like any public health crisis, the gun violence epidemic will not go away unless bold action is taken. Now is the time for the Illinois Senate to save lives by passing SB 1966.
The bill is on Third Reading in the Senate with a motion to concur. If it passes, it goes to the governor. A vote would also likely mean more protesters in Springfield this week.
* The Question: Should the Senate take up this bill this week? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…