Like many mothers, Englewood resident Deja Williams was worried by the news of the Parkland, Florida shooting. But hearing that Illinois lawmakers voted on a series of new gun control measures made her feel a little safer.
“I mean, I have three kids,” Williams said. “I want to know they’re safe in school, and with everything happening on the news — I just think it’s good. Guns have gone unrestricted for too long so I just think that this, what Illinois is doing is — it’s a start in the right direction.”
The proposed laws, which passed the Illinois House and Senate with a majority vote, were vetoed by Republican Governor Rauner. Dem. State Senator Don Harmon said he believes he has the necessary votes in the senate, but lacks a few key votes in the house. Due to the lack of the votes Harmon and other Democrats dropped the overrule.
The proposals included a ban on bump stocks, a mandatory 72 hour waiting period before purchasing guns, restrictions on assault weapon purchases by anyone under 21, and a requirement for all weapons dealers to be licensed. The only law not vetoed by Rauner was a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for those purchasing an assault weapon.
Regardless of whether the overturn is successful, Lurie Well, a ministry assistant for an attorney’s office from River Forest, felt the proposals were too little too late.
“It’s not going to stop the war on gun violence and drugs,” Well said. “I don’t think it’s going to make a difference, unfortunately, [but] I wish it did. It’s a step in the right direction.”
On the national stage too, the debate over gun control has been locked in partisan gridlock. Democrats are demanding more regulations, with Republicans refusing to budge. President Trump proposed that public school teachers should be trained and armed as a deterrent for future shooters.
Joey Hemphill, 44, understands the reasons for arming “good guys.” When he was in the air force, he underwent firearms training every six months to ensure that he stayed one of them.
“If one kid is a troublemaker and throwing the rock,” Hemphill said. “You don’t go arm all the other kids with rocks. You take the rock away from the students.”
But Hemphill, who lives in Highland Park, was alarmed by President Trump’s proposal, which were echoed by some Republican lawmakers.
“It sounds like a great wild west answer but it doesn’t address the economics of it,” Hemphill added. “Teachers are already underpaid. How are you going to fund this? The training involved, how are you going to keep them current?”
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 97 percent of Americans surveyed supported universal background checks before purchasing firearms, 67 percent supported a nationwide ban on assault weapons sales, 84 percent favored mandatory waiting periods before weapons purchases, and 75 percent felt congress should do more to curb gun violence.
“I thought we were trying to keep guns out of schools,” said Patrick Boeck, who works at a downtown hotel. “Instead we’re putting them in the hands of teachers. It’s extremely excessive.”
Other controversial proposals were made to keep students safe in the wake of the Parkland shooting, some of which include installing metal detectors and armed guards at schools.
“I was asking one of my students the other day, ‘Do you feel more safe or less safe?’ He actually said he feels more safe,” Mcneil said. “He said that they would never have a school shooting there. I thought he was going to say no. I was surprised.”
But many, like Patrick Mclaughlin, a former CPS elementary school teacher, opposed such proposals. He said schools like Mcneil’s “already have that correctional-facility-type vibe. You’re going through metal detectors, security’s looking through your backpack.” Mclaughlin added “you feel like you’re in prison or jail… I don’t think you could learn like that.”
The debate over whether to install armed guards in schools was recently complicated when, on April 4, a University of Chicago student was non-fatally shot by a University of Chicago police officer. The student was carrying a metal pipe which he used to smash cars and windows. The student, who was believed to be suffering from mental health issues, was hospitalized.
“Politicians need a wake up call- need to realized who they’re working for,” said Dorian Barrios, a 37-year-old transportation worker from Chinatown. “It doesn’t seem like the people that we are voting for are really working for us. They have their own personal interests.”