147 too many – our communities are in crisis

Communities across Illinois are in crisis. This past weekend at least 106 people were shot in Chicago, 13 of them fatally. The victims included a three-year-old child and a 13-year-old girl, Amaria Jones, who was shot as she danced a Tik Tok dance for her mother in her home. This tragedy marks the most people shot in one weekend since at least 2012, but still not the deadliest this year after more than 20 were killed over the last weekend in May.

For months we’ve watched in horror as TWO pandemics have ravaged our state and, particularly, Black and Brown communities: COVID-19 and gun violence. Like COVID-19, the spike in gun violence in many communities is fueled by unaddressed structural inequalities such as poverty, joblessness, and discriminatory policies and practices.The same level of urgency and resources lawmakers have deployed to fight the COVID-19 outbreak must be applied to our state’s gun violence crisis. 

While there is no one law that is going to address all the deep-seeded issues overnight, we must start somewhere and there are proven solutions to reducing community violence, such as SB1966, the BIO (Block Illegal Ownership) Bill. This life-saving legislation contains proven strategies to reduce the flow of illegal guns to our communities. SB1966, the BIO Bill would:

  • Reduce the FOID Card duration from 10 years to 5 years.
  • Require a point-of-sale background check for all gun sales, including those by an unlicensed seller.
  • Require applicants for FOID Cards to submit fingerprints as part of their application.  
  • Create a mental health reporting fund that will divert surplus funds from the concealed carry program to communities suffering from the highest rates of gun violence. 

The Illinois House has passed SB1966, and now it’s time for the Illinois Senate to follow suit. This week, we are urging Gun Violence Prevention Champion Governor JB Pritzker to help end the gun violence crisis in our state by addressing the glaring gaps in our current law that allow illegal guns to flood our  communities and take more and more lives every day. Please join us in asking  Governor Pritzker to save lives in Illinois by publicly calling on the State Senate to pass SB1966, the BIO BIll, so he can sign this piece of life-saving legislation into law.


As the Lake County State’s Attorney, I am honored and humbled every day to lead the fight against crime, and to strive to ensure equal and just treatment under the law. I have been an attorney for twenty-two years – and each of those years has made me a stronger and smarter advocate for people, for ideas, and for the principles that unite us all.

I am so proud to lead an office of 140 dedicated colleagues who serve the public by prosecuting crime, advocating for victims, and planning crime prevention programs. I am also proud to work with hundreds of Lake County police officers on a daily basis to connect with every community and to develop comprehensive, holistic plans to respond to the mental health and economic crisis that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On one particular day, July 4, 2022, I was saddened, inspired, and motivated by the bravery of so many people. We will always stand with the victims and honor the police and other first responders who ran toward the danger. Just as so many heroes that day thought only of themselves, I also witnessed the prosecutors in my office answer the call to serve survivors and their community – even on one of its darkest days.

Every moment that I have been your legal representative, I have worked tirelessly to oversee prosecutions and to implement policies that make my family and my neighbors safer in the short term and in the long term. That is the job of the State’s Attorney: to prosecute, to innovate, and to strategically plan.

I was raised in a small town. My parents are teachers, and from them, I learned that everyone must be treated equally and that America’s sacred mission is to provide a political, economic, and legal system that allows anyone to prosper regardless of the circumstances of their birth. After graduating from Knox College and the University of Chicago Law School, I spent two years at a first-rate civil law firm in Chicago where I learned that hard work and attention to detail on every case mean the difference between success and failure.

With my wonderful wife Stephanie, I am raising my two sons, Sam and Teddy, in Lake County. Nothing is more important to me than my family’s safety and I bring that passion and determination to protect all families with me to work every day.

I joined the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in 2003 and started my own law firm in 2009. From 2003 until 2020, I watched the Lake County legal system fail to prioritize violent crime, prevent wrongful prosecutions, or address racial disparities.

So, in 2019, I decided to run for State’s Attorney so that I could serve our community by improving a local legal system that cared more about covering up its mistakes and biases than uncovering new and innovative ways to help people.

I won the 2020 election, and became the first Democrat to hold this position in 40 years. Bringing in a new party wasn’t as important as ending 40 years of one mindset that had forgotten the people and that had failed to act urgently to develop new strategic plans to prevent crime while also ensuring that each prosecution is smart, moral, and just.

We have followed through on our promises. We have built the first-ever violent crimes unit, increased prosecutors in our domestic violence division, and vastly upgraded our cyber lab. Now, we have top-notch software and personnel to finally keep up with those who would exploit others.

We have been awarded a large federal grant to bring the first ever Human Trafficking Task Force to Lake County. We have deepened our investment in people by bringing in more victim specialists and raising the salaries of many of our prosecutors.

But the work goes on. We must expand our prevention efforts that are starting with the Gun Violence Prevention Initiative launched in 2022. And we know that the opioid crisis touches thousands of lives throughout this country.

I am proud to serve on the Executive Board of the Lake County Opioid Initiative which has been working tirelessly since its founding in 2012 to reverse a devastating trend of increased overdoses. In 2022, our office was part of a national settlement against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

As an attorney of 22 years, I have committed my life to helping people, and I have conducted over 70 jury trials in Lake County, and handled appeals that have culminated in over 20 oral arguments before the appellate court and Supreme Court of Illinois.

I see my time in this office as the next phase of helping a community that I love and where I have chosen to raise my family. In my first term, we have made Lake County safer and fairer through just prosecutions, constitutional policing, and innovative crime prevention policies.