We address the hard issues. Issues like the threat of gun violence.
Last December, our hearts broke along with the parents of the children who died in the horrific massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
And our hearts break every day with families who suffer from violence in Illinois communities…families like the Pendletons, whose daughter Hadiya Pendleton was stolen from us last week.
I spoke with Hadiya’s family on Monday. There are no words in the English language…or any language…to relieve the pain of parents who lose a child.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah wept day and night for the slain of his people.
Today, we all weep over the senseless violence in our communities.
But as elected officials, we’re in a position to do something about it. We have life-saving work to do.
We cannot wait for another tragedy to happen before we take action.
We must move forward with a comprehensive plan that includes gun safety legislation, mental health care, and violence prevention strategies.
That’s why today, I ask you to move forward with strong public safety legislation that will safeguard the people of Illinois.
We must prohibit the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois.
Of course, we must abide with the second amendment. But there is no place in our state for military-style assault weapons designed for rapid fire at human targets at close range.
And I want to thank Orland Park Police Chief and former Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, an American hero who saved the life of President Ronald Reagan, for his help on this issue. Thank you, Tim.
We must ensure that guns are kept out of everyday public places, because guns don’t belong in our schools, shopping malls, or sports stadiums.
And we must make Illinois safer by strengthening background checks and requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns.
I want to salute Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for their leadership on this issue.
We also must empower our law enforcement to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands. That means we need reliable mental health records.
For years, counties across our state have not been reporting their mental health records to the Illinois State Police. This year, we need every county to step up and do its part to ensure mental health records are updated in real time.
And if there is one thing we can learn from Newtown, it is that we can never rest when it comes to school safety.
Last month, I convened a School Safety Summit with education, public safety, mental health and law enforcement leaders to identify better ways to protect our schools.
Our students and teachers can never be too prepared. That’s why we should pass legislation that will require every school in our state to practice active safety drills that will prepare them for even the worst.
Our Public Safety Agenda is both comprehensive and common sense. Together, we can get it done.
That’s our Illinois.