Illinois Justice Project

AGQ6: Gun Violence Prevention

Illinois Attorney General Candidates Criminal Justice Questionnaire

 

 

VI. Gun Violence Prevention

Gun violence in urban areas across the state continues to reach crisis levels. While Illinois has had a vibrant debate on the effectiveness of increasing sentencing for possession of guns by repeat gun offenders, nearly everyone on both sides of that debate agrees that we must do more than increase criminal sentencing penalties to see significant safety improvements.

Stemming the tide of illegal guns into victimized communities is commonly identified as a key priority in stopping gun violence. A closer examination of urban gun violence reveals that many young men and boys on the path to violence have themselves been victims. The lines continue to blur between perpetrator and victim in the urban gun violence context.

As Attorney General, what would you do to improve our state’s efforts in preventing gun violence? What would you do differently from the current Attorney General to stem the flow of illegal guns into communities hit hard by gun violence?

Given that the Attorney General’s Office is a major stakeholder in supporting crime victims and that, in the past, support has largely gone to a non-diverse set of victims of crime, how might you as Attorney General support broadening the idea of who is a crime victim in order to break the cycle of violence?

 
 
 Kwame Raoul

Kwame Raoul

Kwame Raoul

I would use the Attorney General’s bully pulpit to call for policies that target gun trafficking, and I would follow the lead of New York’s attorney general, who used firearm tracing data obtained from federal law enforcement to learn more about the pipeline by which guns were entering that state from other states and being sold for use in crimes. We already know that a large minority of guns used in crimes in Illinois are trafficked across state lines rather than originally being purchased in-state, where gun regulations are stricter than in several of Illinois’ neighbors. While many are focused on assault weapons, and while I do support banning these types of firearms, it is important to note that the vast majority of crimes are committed using other kinds of guns, including handguns; trafficking, not just bans, must be part of the violence reduction strategy.

We cannot solve the problem of gun violence and illegally obtained guns alone; Illinois must engage with local and federal authorities and with other states to trace guns, cut off pipelines of illicit trafficking and hold accountable those who are intentionally trafficking guns to individuals not authorized to possess them.

Crime victim assistance dollars must be distributed in an evidence-based manner so as to benefit the people, populations and communities most profoundly affected by the trauma of violent crime. Addressing the equity and effectiveness of crime victims’ resource allocation will be one of my first and primary priorities as Attorney General.

By ushering resources to the communities most traumatized by the epidemic of violent crimes, we can interrupt the cycle that normalizes violence and can lead to victims becoming retaliatory offenders.

I will also bring to fruition the pilot trauma center program I pushed for in the General Assembly in order to address the trauma stemming from the violent crime that ravages already under-resourced communities. I believe we must follow where the evidence on untreated trauma leads and establish policies that do not merely respond to gun violence, but prevent it by addressing its underlying causes.

 
 Erika Harold

Erika Harold

Erika Harold

My approach to preventing gun violence would be determined by the type of gun violence being addressed (i.e., violence within schools, gang-related violence, domestic violence, etc.), as it is essential to adopt policies and reforms that are driven by best practices specific to the particular type of violence being targeted. I would support: (1) the allocation of additional resources to law enforcement to enhance their community policing efforts; (2) the creation of additional after school programs and job opportunities for young people in communities affected by violence; (3) the allocation of additional resources to fund social workers who serve as violence interrupters in communities affected by violence; (4) the implementation of violence prevention programs within schools; (5) proper enforcement of Illinois laws pertaining to possession of guns by those who pose a “clear and present danger” and those who are the subject of protective orders; and (6) restrictions on bump stocks. Additionally, I will continue to review all options available to the Office of the Attorney General to help combat violence in Illinois.

I would use the Attorney General’s bully pulpit to call for policies that target gun trafficking, and I would follow the lead of New York’s attorney general, who used firearm tracing data obtained from federal law enforcement to learn more about the pipeline by which guns were entering that state from other states and being sold for use in crimes. We already know that a large minority of guns used in crimes in Illinois are trafficked across state lines rather than originally being purchased in-state, where gun regulations are stricter than in several of Illinois’ neighbors. While many are focused on assault weapons, and while I do support banning these types of firearms, it is important to note that the vast majority of crimes are committed using other kinds of guns, including handguns; trafficking, not just bans, must be part of the violence reduction strategy.

We cannot solve the problem of gun violence and illegally obtained guns alone; Illinois must engage with local and federal authorities and with other states to trace guns, cut off pipelines of illicit trafficking and hold accountable those who are intentionally trafficking guns to individuals not authorized to possess them.