If all lives truly matter in America, passing HB 5855, the Protect Illinois Communities Act is a start to prove it 

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For several decades, the scientific community has classified gun violence as a public health issue which is why addressing gun violence must be viewed and addressed through a multi-lens and systemic approach.

Though many gun enthusiasts cite the Second Amendment and are quick to voice the desires of the Founding Fathers when it comes to gun ownership, Illinoisans must be practical and keep in mind the Founding Fathers were not using weapons of mass destruction to hunt or protect their homes.

No one outside the military needs high-capacity magazines intended to kill many people quickly. Data shows that other countries such as Australia and New Zealand who banned such weapons have been able to reduce their incidents of gun violence.

Resolving this issue will require an incremental process. A first step would entail the passage of HB 5855, the Protect Illinois Communities Act. Additional steps would include adequate funding for education, mental health/behavioral health, workforce development, programming, and building economic capacity particularly for marginalized communities.

The Highland Park shooting of 2021 was a tragedy but I dare to argue that any shooting in any municipality in our state is a tragedy. In considering the passage of HB 5855, the Protect Illinois Communities Act, Illinoisans have another opportunity to support sound policymaking that responds to an issue that is detrimental to communities throughout America.

Mahatma Gandhi stated, “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable.”  The incidents in which guns with high-capacity magazines have taken the lives of innocent children in their homes, families attending parades, and youth walking home from schools, should serve as a catalyst to demonstrate how our state will measure up when it comes to caring for our fellow Illinoisans.

Chasity Wells-Armstrong is a former mayor of Kankakee, Illinois, the architect of Kankakee United, founder of the African American Civic Leaders Scholarship, former congressional staffer, social worker, and community activist.

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