There is little upside to living in a state as vividly blue as Illinois if the super-sized Democratic majorities in the state senate and house don’t flex that power for life-changing good.
Come the new year, four Democrats in the House will introduce sweeping legislation, dubbed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, to control the gun violence that decimates well-being in our state. Whether it is indiscriminate drive-by shootings on the West Side or mass shootings in schools or at a North Suburban 4th of July parade, we face a plague of gun violence across Illinois.
Proud to say that Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8th) is one of four co-sponsors of the legislation. Ford represents the West Side as well as portions of Oak Park, Forest Park and other suburbs to the south and west. He has become a powerful leader on issues of criminal justice reform. He has played a leading role in crafting, passing and last week refining the landmark SAFE-T justice reform bill which takes effect Jan. 1.
This new gun legislation, which also has the support of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, would ban the sale of assault weapons and, after 300 days, ban the possession of such weapons in Illinois. It would raise the legal age to purchase a gun legally to 21 and outlaw the sale of bullet-spraying oversized ammunition clips. It would also focus on investigating the trafficking of guns from neighboring states with no effective gun safety laws and extend to 12 months from 6 the duration of a firearm restraining order.
There will be opposition to this common-sense push for gun safety from Republicans and likely some percentage of downstate Democrats. That’s why acting in a moment when Democratic majorities are so astoundingly high is the necessary step.
There will also be doubts about the virtue of passing such legislation in a time when the U.S. Supreme Court has been captured illicitly by the far right.
But fighting for what is right means ignoring the doubters. It means driving action at the local and state level to fuel a wave of action across America that turns our national fetish for weapons into a more manageable aberration.
Thanks to Rep. Ford for providing leadership.