News Local/State

Illinois AG, House Majority Leader, Vow Action Against Gun Violence

At left, Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks with Illinois State Troopers following an event at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 14.

At left, Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks with Illinois State Troopers following an event at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 14. Sam Dunklau/NPR Illinois

In the wake of two high profile mass shootings this month, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul's office is making gun violence prosecutions a priority. A leader of the Illinois House, meanwhile, said new gun legislation will be on the table during the next legislative session.

Raoul has faced questions about what the Attorney General’s office is doing to stop these shootings from happening in Illinois. He stressed that gun violence has been a priority for him since taking office, and highlighted a new Violence Prevention division that’s aimed at tracing guns used at crime scenes back to their source.

“[It's] to make sure that we can keep accountable people who traffick guns into the hands of people who will do harm with them,” Raoul said during a speech at the Illinois State Fair.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office says though hiring decisions for the new division have been made, it is not yet active. In a statement, she identified two people who have been hired to directly oversee the fledgling division, Nathalina Hudson and Sharisse Kimbro.

Hudson was hired in March as a Deputy Attorney General according to the statement, "where she oversees eight criminal bureaus." Kimbro was hired Aug. 1 to head up what the office is calling the Violence Prevention/Crime Victims Services Division.

According to Raoul, the Attorney General's office has also trained police officers on how to address gun violence, and given state assistance to county prosecutors involved in gun violence cases.

The shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas have also prompted calls for further state regulation.

State Rep. and House Majority Leader Greg Harris, seen talking with a colleague on the Illinois House floor in Nov. 2018.

Photo Credit: Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

State Rep. Greg Harris (D, Chicago) is the majority leader in the Illinois House. He said that any new measures would focus on “limiting” the kinds of weapons people can buy, and ensuring they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

“These are things every year we’re going to fight for," he said. "But it’s a long slog because our opponents keep working against us and find new ways around it [new regulations].”

Governor J.B. Pritzker says he supports banning high-capacity magazines like those that were used in both of this month's mass shootings. Harris did not provide a timeline for when gun legislation might be introduced, but says any measure could save “dozens of lives.”

"We've got to stay on this until we've closed every single loophole we can find," Harris said.

State lawmakers also considered tightening rules surrounding the Firearm Owners Identification or FOID card, after a shooting at a workplace in Aurora left several dead in February.  That effort has so far been unsuccessful.