WATCH: Highland Park shooting renews push for assault weapons ban in Illinois and federal government

By Hannah Shapiro
Medill Reports

The shooting during the July 4 parade in Highland Park killed seven people and injured dozens more. In the month since the shooting, community members, activists and local politicians have pledged to prevent such violence from affecting other communities, focusing their efforts on promoting state and federal bans. assault weapons.

Transcription:

Susan Isaacson: It was, it was awful. It was horrible.

HIGHLAND PARK RESIDENT SUSAN ISAACSON WAS AT THE JULY 4TH PARADE WITH HER FAMILY AS THE DOWNTOWN CELEBRATION TURNED INTO A BATTLEGROUND.

Isaacson: I think maybe five minutes into, six minutes into the parade, I said to Casey, my grandson, oh, they’re having fireworks. And with that, I hear people screaming and running towards me. And I think, oh my God, that’s not possible. It can’t happen here. It can’t, I can’t believe it’s happening.

SUSAN TOOK HER TWO GRANDCHILDREN AND RUN.

Isaacson: As we were running, I hear people shouting that people are dead, people are in the streets. They bleed. We came across this new winery that opened in St. Johns. There were about 40 people in there, and unbeknownst to me later, there were 16 people down in the basement in a one-cabin bathroom. He ended up giving us water and people were screaming and crying. And I haven’t found my daughter.

SUSAN’S DAUGHTER HAD GONE TO FIND HER STEP-FRANCES. THE FAMILY WERE SEPARATED FOR 10 MINUTES BEFORE GATHERING AT THE CELLAR, WHERE THEY ARE SHELTERING IN PLACE.

Isaacson: I was shaking. I couldn’t, I couldn’t believe it. I literally couldn’t believe this was happening. I didn’t know where to go. We didn’t know where to go because we didn’t know if there were multiple shooters or just one shooter. He locked us in the back and about an hour later we were allowed out the back door, but we could only go east.

AUTHORITIES BLOCKED ROADS TO CONTAIN THE SCENE AND CHECK FOR EXPLOSIVES. SUSAN HAD BEEN PARKING NEARBY, SO THEY RUN TO HER CAR, DENT HOME EAST AND TURNED ON THE NEWS.

SEVEN PEOPLE WERE KILLED IN THE MASS SHOOTING. TWO DOZEN OTHERS WERE INJURED.

Isaacson: These are people who have honestly come out with their kids or grandkids for a nice parade that we do, I’ve been doing it for 35 years. And it’s just that you don’t expect that to happen.

FOR SUSAN ISAACSON, EVERYTHING IS CLEAR.

Isaacson: I think we don’t need military weapons to be sold. Nobody needs it. And I hope to God, something’s going on in Washington.

ILLINOIS HAS SOME OF THE STRICTEST GUN LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES GIFFORDS LAW CENTER FOR PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE HAS GIVEN ILLINOIS AN A- ON ITS ANNUAL GUN LAW SCORECARD AND RANKED IT EIGHTH OF 50 STATES FOR GUN SAFETY STRENGTH.

EVEN SO, ARMY VIOLENCE HAPPENS HERE EVERY DAY. THERE ARE GAPS IN THE LAW. ONE OF THESE GAPS IS THE ACCESSIBILITY OF ASSAULT WEAPONS.

[Footage from U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on July 20] Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park: It takes less than a minute for one person with an assault weapon to fire 83 rounds into a crowd, changing so many lives forever

ACCORDING TO THE GUN VIOLENCE ARCHIVES, THERE WERE 399 MASS DRAWINGS IN THE UNITED STATES IN 2022. THE DEADLIEST OF THEM, BUFFALO, UVALDE AND NOW HIGHLAND PARK, EACH USED ASSAULT WEAPONS.

HIGHLAND PARK HAS HAD AN ASSAULT WEAPON BAN IN PLACE SINCE 2013. A LOCAL BAN WAS NOT ENOUGH TO STOP SOMEBODY FROM BRINGING AN ASSAULT WEAPON TO THEIR PARADE.

WITHIN THREE DAYS OF THE CUTOUT, MORE THAN 25,000 PEOPLE SIGNED A CHANGE.ORG PETITION IN SUPPORT OF PASSING BILL 5522 TO BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS IN ILLINOIS. TO DATE, THIS NUMBER HAS INCREASED TO MORE THAN 78,000 SIGNATURES.

HOUSE BILL 5522 WAS INTRODUCED IN JANUARY BY THE STATE REPRESENTATIVE. MAURA HIRSCHAUER. UNTIL JULY 7, BILL HAD ONLY ONE CO-SPONSOR. FOLLOWING THE HIGHLAND PARK KILLING, 55 OTHER REPRESENTATIVES CO-SIGNED, FIRST OF WHICH WAS REP. DENYSE WANG STONEBACK OF ILLINOIS’ 16TH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE.

Stoneback: I absolutely support a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity magazines. They are weapons of war designed to effectively kill as many people as possible in the minimum amount of time. And every time we see mass fire with implicated assault weapons or high capacity magazines, the death toll and injury toll are much higher.

ACCORDING TO CITY-WIDE GUN SAFETY RESEARCH, FROM 2009 TO 2020, “MASS SHOOTING INVOLVING AN ASSAULT WEAPON HAS ACCOUNTED FOR 25% OF ALL MASS SHOOTING DEATHS AND 76% OF INJURIES . ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT USED IN THE MAJORITY OF MASS DRAWINGS, WHEN THEY WERE USED IT LEFT SIX TIMES MORE PEOPLE KILLED BY INCIDENT THAN WHEN THERE WERE NO WEAPON. ASSAULT.

Stoneback: I think it’s very important for us to pass a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity magazines, but we have to keep in mind that assault weapons are really just 3% of all gun murders. That’s one element, but if we’re addressing that, by itself, we’re not necessarily addressing many of the other issues that exist

Editor’s note: The Stoneback team clarified that “assault weapons were implicated in only 3% of all firearm killings. That’s one element, but if we’re just addressing that, by itself, we’re not necessarily addressing many of the other issues that are out there.

THERE ARE CURRENTLY SIX GUN CONTROL BILLS THAT THE ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY COULD ACT ON. TO PASS THE STATE’S ASSAULT WEAPON BAN AND OTHER GUN CONTROLS DURING THE VETO SESSION REQUIRES A SUPERMAJORITY IN EACH CHAMBER, 36 SENATE VOTES AND 71 CHAMBER VOTES.

Maureen Westphal: That’s enough. We cannot have these weapons of war in civilian hands.

MAUREEN WESTPHAL IS THE LEGISLATIVE COORDINATOR OF THE FOURTH MARCH, AN ADVOCACY GROUP FORMED IN THE FOLLOWING THE HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING BY MOMS WHO ARE CONNECTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

Westphal: We have worked with families in Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park. When we went to DC, we went with a simple message: We need to ban assault weapons federally now.

MARS FOURTH ORGANIZES TO SUPPORT THE BILLS THAT MAKE THIS ONE, LIKE THE HOUSE BILL 1808.

Westphal: We mobilized, we met with members of Congress, we had thousands and thousands of phone calls to some of the leadership offices, asking them to schedule a vote and trying to encourage members of Congress to support the bill when it reached the floor of the House. We were very excited to see when it was slated for tagging in the House Judiciary Committee.

THE LAST TIME CONGRESS PASSED AN ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN WAS IN 1994, WHICH EXPIRED DUE TO A 10-YEAR SUNSET PROVISION. ON JULY 29, THE HOUSE BILL 1808 PASSED THROUGH THE HOUSE JUDICIAL COMMITTEE AND WAS REPORTED TO THE HOUSE FOR A FULL VOTE.

[CSPAN footage of House Bill 1818 House vote] Speaker Nancy Pelosi: On this vote, the yeas are 217, the nays are 213. The bill passes.

Westphal: What happened in the Chamber was a historic step. And a month ago, we were told that it was impossible. And we don’t believe that’s the case.

THE NEXT STEP IS THE SENATE. SENATE BILL 736 HAS 38 CO-SPONSORS. IT TAKES 60 TO PASS.

Westphal: So we are going to be strategic in our approach in the Senate, just as we were in the House. We have so many supporters by our side. We have public opinion on our side, the majority of Americans want it. And so we will talk to senators, we will talk to the leaders of the Senate and encourage them to plan a vote.

A JUNE 2022 SURVEY CONDUCTED BY MORNING CONSULT AND POLITICO FOUND THAT 68% OF VOTERS SUPPORT STRICTER GUN CONTROL LAWS. FIFTY-FOUR PERCENT OF REGISTERED VOTES SURVEYED STRONGLY SUPPORT A BAN ON ASSAULT-TYPE WEAPONS, AND 12% RATHER SUPPORT A BAN.

Westphal: It’s not a political question. We primarily ask senators to vote according to their conscience. It has always been an uphill battle. And it shouldn’t be.

SUSAN AND HER FAMILY PROCESS WHAT THEY EXPERIENCED ON JULY 4TH.

Isaacson: It was difficult. It was tough. I went to group therapy once and never went to a therapist, but it helped me a lot. And then I went to high school, which was wonderful. The FBI was there, the police, and they were great with the kids. I talk a lot. I talk about it because if I don’t, I might cry.

AND THEY BEGAN TO FIND CURE IN THE SUPPORT THAT FOLLOWED.

Isaacson: My husband and I walked up town on Saturday night. And there were people from all over, not even from the Chicago area or Highland Park, other parts of the country. And it made me feel really good that we have a community like this. I don’t know if I will ever go to a fashion show again. But yes, I feel safe.

FOR MEDILL REPORTS AT HIGHLAND PARK, HANNAH SHAPIRO

Hannah Shapiro is a graduate student in video and broadcasting at Medill. You can follow her on Twitter at @_hannah_shapiro.