Following months of public outcry demanding policy change, today the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee launched a new campaign to bolster and build legislative support around a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines dubbed ‘Halt The Assault.’ A statewide effort supported by leading national gun violence prevention organizations, Halt The Assault will utilize tools to organize and activate supporters to reach their state lawmakers and ultimately advance the life-saving measure in the coming months.
“Assault weapons only exist to make shootings more deadly, and it’s time we banned them in Illinois,” said Kathleen Sances, President and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee (GVPAC). “Halt The Assault is the result of Illinoisans demanding immediate action to ban assault weapons, which is the number one priority of the gun violence prevention movement. This coordinated statewide effort will channel the momentum behind this commonsense measure into meaningful policy change. I want to thank the state leaders and lawmakers who have already shared their support and look forward to bringing more into the fold as we look to save lives.”
While the measure was not deemed politically viable earlier this year, momentum behind an assault weapon ban among the public has grown, and Illinois residents are demanding action from their lawmakers particularly after the Highland Park mass shooting. From January to September 2022, Illinois has seen 45 mass shootings, 35 of which were in Chicago. Mass shootings are only a fraction of the fatal shootings that take place across the state, illustrating the tragic toll of gun violence that hits urban communities particularly hard across Illinois.
“Those of us at Giffords believe in one central tenet: gun laws save lives,” said Sean Holihan, state legislative director at Giffords. “When Congress banned assault weapons, there was a stark decline in the use of these military-style weapons. We also know that wounds caused by assault weapons are much more severe and lethal than other firearms. If Illinois were to join the growing list of states that have outlawed these weapons, lives will be spared.”
“We have the power to prevent the uniquely American tragedies that occur because of easy access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” said Tanya Schardt, Senior Counsel and Director, State and Federal Policy at Brady. “From that mass shooting in Highland Park to daily incidents of gun violence in communities all over the state, too often, Illinoisians have experienced the devastation these weapons of war can cause. Illinois state lawmakers should seize this moment and protect the public safety of their constituents by taking action to ban assault weapons now before more lives are lost and communities devastated.”
Halt the Assault will pair digital advocacy and paid media to reach concerned residents and drive them toward action. Campaign assets are attached, and you can learn more about the affiliated political action committee, G-PAC, in this video profile.
The campaign will focus its efforts on DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, McHenry, Suburban Cook and Will counties, as well as the Bloomington, Champaign, Metro East, Peoria, Springfield and Quad Cities metro areas. An updated legislator contact tool will be employed to connect constituents with their lawmakers and put facts front and center in the policy conversation. GVPAC is investing six figures into the campaign and will activate its advocacy network of nearly 200 organizations that have organized behind past efforts to hold gun dealers accountable, require universal background checks for all gun sales, and make ghost guns illegal.
Organizations supporting Halt The Assault include GVPAC, One Aim Illinois, Everytown, Giffords, Moms Demand Action and Brady.
Governor JB Pritzker, among other political leaders, has been a fierce advocate for the measure. “We are going to ban assault weapons in the state,” the governor said at the Oct. 6 gubernatorial debate. “No one should have that kind of firepower. There’s no sporting use for that, no defense use for that. The fact is that we’ve got to do more to get guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them.”
Attorney General Kwame Raoul recently spoke in support of an assault weapons ban at a Sept. 20 G-PAC endorsement event. “There are certain weapons that are weapons of war – that can do a lot of damage, not only to the targets of the shooter, but to unintended people… There are assault weapons out there. Right now, there are these switches out there that turn a handgun into a fully automatic gun that is impossible to control. That is why more and more you hear about young people, infants, getting shot, and that is unconscionable.”