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Rep. Robin Kelly joins Gov. Pat Quinn urging passage stronger Illinois gun laws

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Governor Pat Quinn and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL-2) yesterday gathered with the neighbors, friends and family of Tonya Gunn, 44, on the 10900 block of South Throop Street. Tonya Gunn who was yet another victim of gun violence on the streets of Chicago, was at her grandfather’s cookout early July 7 when she was fatally shot in the arm and side, reported the Chicago Sun Times.

The July 4 holiday weekend was an especially bloody weekend, in which 13 people were killed and at least 58 wounded in shootings across the city. Tonya Gunn's shooting in Chicago’s Morgan Park neighborhood that weekend has become an all too common occurrence in Chicago.

"The recent epidemic of violence in Chicago is unacceptable and we must join together to fight back," Governor Quinn said. "Public safety is government's foremost mission and Illinois should not wait any longer to act. There are too many victims of a war being waged on our streets; a war fueled in part by the availability of deadly, military-style assault weapons that have no purpose other than killing. We must work together to protect the lives of those we love and stop what's happening in our communities. I urge the Illinois General Assembly to take a stand and pass this legislation that will save lives and protect communities."

Quinn and Kelly are urging the passage of the Illinois Public Safety Act, Senate Bill 3659, was introduced during the recent spring Legislative session by State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and supported by Governor Quinn.

Rep. Kelly told the Chicago Grassroots Examiner in an email interview, "The Illinois Public Safety Act is an important, fundamental step in reducing the unprecedented level of gun violence occurring on our streets. Common sense gun legislation is needed at all levels of government to effectively deal with the problem of guns getting into the wrong hands. I’m continuing to work at the federal level to promote common sense gun reform, such as expanded background checks, so that criminals cannot sidestep state or local legislation by crossing state lines."

Senate Bill 3659 bans the possession, delivery, sale and purchase of assault weapons, large capacity ammunition feeding devices such as magazines or clips, and .50 caliber rifles and cartridges in Illinois. Valid Firearms Owners Identification Card (FOID) holders who possess any of these devices at the time the law is enacted would be allowed to keep them, but could not transfer or sell them except to a family member. The legislation also requires background checks for the transfer of firearms except to a family member or at a gun show.

A review of mass shootings between January 2009 and January 2013 by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that incidents where assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines were used resulted in 135% more people shot and 57% more killed, compared to other mass shootings.

"This is a common-sense solution to preventing gun violence and keeping our children and families safe," Senator Kotowski said of his bill, Senate Bill 3659. "This measure will protect our communities by ensuring that military-style assault weapons are off the streets and out of hands of criminals."

Congresswoman Robin Kelly is the author of "The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America," the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the crisis. The "Kelly Report" brings together members of Congress, academics and gun reform advocates to examine the root causes and impact of gun violence in America and provide a comprehensive set of legislative and policy recommendations to stop it.

Governor Quinn signed legislation in 2013 that increases penalties on gun owners who don’t report the theft or loss of a weapon. This major legislation was a key priority in the Governor’s 2013 State of the State address. He also signed a law in 2011 to increase penalties for convicted felons who are found carrying guns – this helps fight gun crime in Illinois by ensuring that felons who are convicted of new weapons offenses will be sent to prison and not allowed to walk the streets of Illinois. Governor Quinn also signed a law in 2009 establishing mandatory prison time for gang members convicted of possessing a loaded gun in a public area.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons.

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