Illinois Senate Failed to Act to Protect Public from Dangerous People With Guns


Media Contact:

Kathleen Sances 



Illinois Senate Failed to Act to Protect Public from Dangerous People With Guns

 Unprecedented Number of Advocates and Survivors Vow to Pass Bill to Curb Record-breaking Gun Violence


SPRINGFIELD January 14, 2021 – Despite outnumbering the gun lobby opposition with tens of thousands of contacts from individual constituents, the Illinois Senate failed to prioritize public safety and pass SB1966, the BIO (Block Illegal Ownership) Bill to Fix The FOID.

Kathleen Sances, the Pres. and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC stated, “While we are incredibly disappointed, our statewide coalition of over 200 organizations that represent children and families impacted by gun violence, especially those from Black and Brown communities, is proud of our relentless, targeted efforts and remains committed to honoring the thousands of gun violence victims killed by an illegal gun through advocating for this meaningful, public safety reform.”

In response to the tragic shootings at Henry Pratt Company and Mercy Hospital, the Illinois House addressed the danger of illegal guns by passing SB1966, which was designed to prevent dangerous people from getting access to and keeping illegal firearms through: requiring fingerprints for FOID applicants, closing the person-to-person background check loophole, funding for community mental health services, and prioritizing the removal of guns from people with revoked FOID cards. Yet, despite widespread support calls for its passage from advocates across the state, the bill stalled in the Illinois Senate in May 2019. 

While COVID-19 ravaged communities across Illinois, thousands of innocent Illinoisans have been shot, with gun violence remaining a leading cause of death for children and adolescent Black men in our state. During the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention (ILGVP) coalition’s digital day of action over half a million Illinoisans heard Senate leadership promise to prioritize SB1966 to address Illinois’ gun violence crisis. While Illinois state senators failed to act on the bill since it passed the House, 7,752 Illinoisans have been shot, over 100 children were shot and killed, and at least 36,000 illegal guns remain in the hands of people prohibited from owning them. The inaction of senators from both political parties is a betrayal of Illinois communities devastated every day by illegal guns.

During the two years of the campaign to pass the SB1966, the ILGVP coalition effectively mobilized a massive digital organizing presence that drove hundreds of thousands of district-based, constituent contacts to key suburban and collar county lawmakers, including almost 20,000 emails to lawmakers all during one digital day of action. In the weekend leading up to the lame-duck session, the coalition mobilized a final push that flooded the inboxes of these senators, including another 1,000 emails and nearly 200 calls from constituents living in the districts of each state senator undecided on the bill. 

Furthermore, statewide polling shows that SB1966 is backed by a broad majority of Illinois residents, including 81% who strongly support closing the dangerous background check loophole. This polling, as well as the incredible number of contacts from individual constituents living in and concerned about gun violence in these districts, is a clear mandate to legislators that their constituents want them to act now to get illegal guns off the street. We are grateful to our Chief Senate sponsor, Senator Julie Morrison, for her leadership on this issue.

“I am deeply disappointed that Senators from both political parties did not push to call SB1966 for a vote. I thank the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention coalition and the tens of thousands of constituents who advocated for the passage of this legislation. This bill helps keep our communities safe by modernizing our FOID card system, and we will not give up until it becomes law. I look forward to reintroducing the bill and working with legislators, on both sides of the aisle, to quickly pass this legislation at the start of the new session.”  said Chief House sponsor Leader Kathleen Willis. 

Survivor and advocate Delphine Cherry of Hazel Crest added “I am heartbroken that the senators from both political parties played politics with legislation that communities like mine desperately need. The South Suburbs are being devastated by illegal guns and we need the mental health funds that this bill provides to deal with that trauma.” She continued “I look forward to honoring the two children I have lost to illegal guns by working with legislators in Springfield to make sure they stand with survivors like me and pass this bill.”

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.