G-PAC, Brady Campaign and Families Unite for Gun Safety

The Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee (G-PAC) and the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence convened with dozens of gun violence victims and advocates yesterday to proudly endorse Pat Quinn for a second term as Governor of Illinois over his opponent, Bruce Rauner. The event was held in front of the LaSalle Blue Line train station in Chicago, where a gunman armed with an assault rifle fired shots at oncoming commuter trains just last week.

Governor Quinn scored 100% on the G-PAC Candidate Questionnaire, and has signed historic lifesaving legislation into law, including requiring universal background checks and mandatory reporting of lost/stolen guns to prevent illegal trafficking. In addition, he has led the charge for a statewide ban on semi-automatic, military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

In contrast, Bruce Rauner avoided responding to the G-PAC Candidate Questionnaire, does not support common sense gun safety legislation and has come under fire among leading gun violence prevention leaders for “out of touch” statements he has made in opposition to legislation banning semi-automatic, military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.  When asked when it would be appropriate to use an assault weapon, Rauner stated, “It would be up to the owner. I do think it’s target practice for use…as they choose fit.”

“Clearly Mr. Rauner is out of touch with the communities he seeks to govern.  What he may not realize is that human beings, our children and even innocent commuters on the way home from work on our CTA trains are the targets of these deadly weapons.” said Kathleen Sances, Executive Director of G-PAC, as gun violence victims and advocates stood behind her holding signs with targets on them and the words, including “I am a Target” and “Children are Targets.”

Representing the national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence were Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, 24, was tragically shot-and-killed in the horrific July 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting by a gunman armed with a Smith & Wesson MP15 Assault Rifle, a .40 Glock pistol and a Remington 12 gauge shotgun along with a 100-round ammunition magazine.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Several gun violence victims attended the event to express their support for Governor Quinn, and to make it clear that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines pose a real risk to Illinois communities by sharing their personal tragedies.

Joy McCormack shared the story of the tragic shooting death of her son, Frankie Valencia, Jr., a star student at DePaul University who had been nominated to intern at the White House and was scheduled to receive the Lincoln Laureate Award from Governor Quinn before being shot-and-killed at a college party by a young assailant armed with a $300 Tec-9 semi-automatic assault weapon.

Also in attendance were Charlene Davis, who has been helping raise four-year-old Nazhia Thompson, since her mother, Chanda Thompson, 21, was brutally shot-and-killed by a gunman armed with a high capacity ammunition magazine in front of a Chatham bakery after buying a cake for Nazhia’s second birthday in November 2011.

“I want Bruce Rauner to understand that no parent should ever experience what I have experienced.  For the rest of your life, your memory of your child is your child being murdered,” said Annette Holt, mother of Blair Holt, 16, an honors student who was shot-and-killed in 2007 while shielding a young girl from gang crossfire on a CTA bus, and the namesake of the Cook County Board of Commissioner’s “Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban.” “If he understood that, he would be out there campaigning to protect our children – the real targets of these deadly weapons — by making the assault weapons ban statewide law.”

Follow these links for a complete roundup of the news from the press conference.

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The Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee (G-PAC) was founded by gun violence survivors
to counter the political influence of the gun industry and their lobby in Springfield.