I began volunteering with Moms Demand Action after becoming a mother for the first time in 2016, and have been active in the gun violence prevention movement ever since. I am hopeful because, here in Illinois, we have a rare opportunity to pass meaningful legislation that will help keep our families safer from gun violence with the Protect Communities Act (House Bill 5855.)

HB 5855 proposes important provisions to state law, including banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, raising the age to obtain a firearm owners identification (FOID) card to 21, improves the process for petitioning firearm restraining orders, and addresses gun trafficking in Illinois.

While high-profile school shootings and public mass shootings often are the catalysts that drive folks to our membership meetings, my work has exposed me to the tragic complexities of gun violence in America, as well as in our own community.

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for American children. Gun suicide, which comprises roughly 60% of gun violence in America, largely impacts white Americans, while gun homicide largely impacts Black and Brown Americans. 

This is a complex issue that requires layered solutions, comprehensive laws, and education campaigns. And so while HB 5855 doesn’t address every aspect of gun violence, it will absolutely save lives in our state. I look forward to also seeing future legislation that increases funding for city gun violence prevention, and continued state investment in programs that address the root causes of this public-health crisis.

Your voice matters! Urge your Illinois state representative to vote Yes on HB 5855 and stay tuned to local gun violence prevention advocates for future action items to support this initiative.

Jenna Leving Jacobson, Oak Park

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