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Lawmakers pushing to hold gun industry accountable

Judge rules Chicago suburb can't ban assault weapons. (WICS/WRSP)
Judge rules Chicago suburb can't ban assault weapons. (WICS/WRSP)
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Back in January of 2023, standing alongside lawmakers and gun control activists, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which banned the sale and distribution of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Now in May of 2023 with several lawsuits challenging the state's assault weapons ban, lawmakers are pushing new legislation with the goal of holding gun manufacturers accountable for dangerous marketing tactics.

House Bill 218, also known as The Firearm Industry Responsibility Act, would hold gun manufacturers accountable for any marketing that contributes to gun violence.

“It's not okay to market an assault weapon to children, it's about time to hold gun manufacturers accountable just like every other business," said Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview.

Rep. Gong-Gershowitz introduced the bill with the goal to ensure families devastated by gun violence have a path to justice in Illinois civil court.

“Gun manufacturers enjoy a special immunity under federal law. They can legally market an insurrection to white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys and pink assault weapons to children too young to own one," said Gong-Gershowitz.

HB 218 has support from the Illinois Attorney General's Office and Kathleen Sances, the President and CEO of Illinois Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC).

"We are supporting that bill, and we hope to see it pass out of the senate and get sent to the governor's desk this week," said Sances.

Along with supporting the bill, G-PAC is also launching a new campaign #NotInOurHouse, with the hopes to educate the public on the gun industry's immunity in the state.

There's an average of over three deaths a day that are caused by the use of a firearm in our state. Meanwhile the gun industries marketing firearms, accessories, and other gun components that appear to support or encourage unlawful militia paramilitary marketing," said Sances. "The gun industry is marketing to people under the age of 18. The absurdity is they are not legally allowed to own guns. Gun manufacturers may want to start them young, but not in our state, and like the campaign we're here to say not in our house.

Not everyone in Illinois agrees with the assault weapons ban and other gun control measures. On the House floor on May 10th, Republican lawmakers challenged House Bill 218.

“It seems as though we want to hold everybody accountable for someone's actions, except for the individual who actually committed the crime," said Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer.

“It is an attempt to put gun dealers out of business," said Rep. David Friess, R-115 District.

Representative Friess believes the state shouldn't be after the manufacturers. It should be after the criminals who commit the crimes.

"I'm a firm advocate for the Second Amendment. We need to protect my rights and everybody else's rights that believe in the second amendment, and to those individuals that break the law, let's punish them, let's get them in court, let's not dismiss their bad behavior, and let's punish them," said Friess.

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Organizations across Illinois will gather at the Capitol on May 16th with the hopes that House Bill 218 and other gun violence prevention bills will pass by Friday's deadline.

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