With the July 4 parade mass shooting reinvigorating calls for a ban on firearms like those used by the alleged Highland Park shooter, a contingent of Lake County officials were in Washington on Wednesday for a Senate hearing focused on banning firearms like AR-15s and high-capabilities. magazines.
In the 16 days since the deaths of seven people in the Highland Park shooting, there have been 47 other mass shootings in the United States, which means that so far this year there have been 356 incidents in which four or more people were shot.
“That’s an overwhelming number considering his thinking about life in America. And it’s shameful that we’ve done so little to stop him,” said the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a senior U.S. senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering told senators her hometown residents will take a long time to consider issues such as how to make children feel safe when it’s time to return at school; but his answer to what can prevent mass shootings is definitive.
“At the end of the day, we know that to move forward as a community, to move forward as a nation, we have to take combat arms out of the hands of civilians,” she said. “It’s yet another new journey for all of us. It will be a long journey. But right now, we need these weapons out of the hands of civilians. »
That testimony drew applause from audience dwellers and Democratic senators who want to ban semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat and veteran, said such weapons benefit troops on the battlefield, but are not necessary for civilian use.
“Whether it’s a soldier engaging an enemy in combat or an untrained serial killer chasing children in a school, any shooter – any shooter – seeking to effectively kill multiple people without wasting ammunition will prefer a semi-automatic rifle coupled with a high-capacity detachable magazine that allows for rapid reloading,” Duckworth said. “As fast as you can pull the trigger, it starts a new round. Every senator on this committee should study what happens to a body when it is hit by a bullet moving at a speed of over 3,000 feet per second… it liquefies your organs. Liquifies them. You have no chance of survival. You should seek medical attention. emergencies that can show you what happens when a bullet enters a human body at high speed and topples over, exploding tissue and exploding those vital organs.
Duckworth urged committee members to consider which relatives should provide DNA samples, as victims killed by military-grade weapons in the Sandy Hook and Uvalde mass shootings were unidentifiable.
Former Marine Kyleanne Hunter, now with the nonpartisan RAND Corporation, said that in war zones semi-automatic rifles descended from the ArmaLite have been used in every conflict since Vietnam and have advantages: they are lighter and shorter (therefore easier to carry) and “can fire more bullets faster, and their bullets are designed to damage the human body and even shoot through a standard military helmet.”
She said what makes them great “service” weapons is likely why they’re more lethal when used in crimes.
“When an assault weapon is used in one of these shootings, there are more than 14 times as many injuries and twice as many deaths as when any other type of weapon is used,” Hunter said. “And that’s because these weapons were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible.”
Hunter said lawmakers have stymied research that would yield better data on these and other gun issues, but even so, policymakers should use logical inferences to determine gun policy. firearms – as banning these types of firearms would reduce deaths and serious injuries. , even if the rate of gun crime does not slow down.
But president of the National African American Firearms Association Philip Smith has long said that black codes prohibit black Americans from having guns, leaving them vulnerable and helpless.
“Today, in 2022, preventing American citizens from buying guns has the same effect as the black codes of 1865. The end result is that people – especially black people – are unable to get a gun to fire, which makes them vulnerable. To me, that’s unacceptable and un-American,” Smith said. “If you implement a lot of these proposals that I’m hearing today, heaps and Loads of single black women, loads and loads of black men, who are trying to get protection in these tough neighborhoods – the hood, whatever you want to call it – aren’t going to be able to do that. That’s why it’s discriminatory in their long-term effect on our community.
He said black Americans need access to AR-15s, which he uses to protect his home and family.
In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, Congress recently passed, for the first time in decades, a gun control package that provides money for mental health and for red flag laws in states, institutes federal penalties for gun trafficking and requires more extensive background checks for those under 21 purchasing a firearm.
A die Bipartisan Community Safety ActRepublican architects, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, were criticized by some in his party for it, but Cornyn said he believed the law would save lives while preserving Second Amendment rights.
“But one thing I don’t want to do is erode the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Law-abiding citizens are not going to commit these heinous acts, they are not going to commit crimes,” Cornyn said. “I wonder about the focus on the gun as an inanimate object. An inanimate object will not harm anyone. What matters is who owns that gun.
Cornyn said the focus on guns deviates from areas where Congress could make a difference, “like focusing on felons who committed 836 homicides last year in Chicago alone. It happened in the aftermath of funding the police movement and the so-called Ferguson Effect where law enforcement officers were blamed as opposed to criminals who committed violent and unlawful acts.
Throughout the committee, references were made to crime in Chicago and the laws of Highland Park and Illinois.
“If the goal is to stop mass murder, gun control doesn’t work. The state of Illinois has one of the strictest gun control laws of any state in the country. Highland Park has even stricter gun control laws than the state of Illinois,” said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
After the hearing, Mayor Rotering said the hearing is like Texas senators, it was like an “out of body experience.”
Highland Park has since 2013 banned assault weapons, but Mayor Rotering said the town isn’t an island — it’s a road near Wisconsin, where the laws are looser.
“As local governments, we cannot do this alone. We are only as protected as our weaker neighbors when it comes to gun rights. We are surrounded by states that have much more lenient gun laws and until those states align with us, we will continue to have this blight, this stain on our existence as a great nation,” Rotering said. “To that end, we need a federal ban, we need an assault weapons ban, we need a high capacity magazine ban.”
Illinois does not ban semi-automatic rifles or large capacity magazines.
State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, told a news conference in Washington on Wednesday that negotiations are underway among state lawmakers about action on gun control. , including a ban.
It would take a super-majority of 71 votes in the House and 36 in the Senate to pass a ban that takes effect immediately, or 60 votes for a ban that takes effect in July 2023.
Democrats hold 73 seats in the House and 41 in the Senate, more than enough to meet the three-fifths required for immediate passage.
Meanwhile, President Biden is expected to announce executive action on gun control on Thursday.
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