Skip to content

New Here?

As National Crime Victims Rights Week Wraps, Illinois Lawmakers Should Prioritize Passing The Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act

April 19, 2024

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. —  This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), a week to highlight the importance of services for crime victims and highlight the courage of survivors, as well as those who advocate for crime victims. As the week wraps, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots network, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, are calling on Illinois lawmakers to pass the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act (House Bill 4753 and House Bill 4754), which would allow the surviving family members of victims of unsolved murders to petition law enforcement agencies to review cases that occurred more than three years prior. This bill honors gun violence survivors and families impacted by gun violence by addressing cold case clearance rates. 

“For many in the ever-growing community of survivors of unsolved gun crimes, the life-long healing process can be even more difficult when we don’t have answers to crucial questions,” said Keenon James, Senior Director of the Everytown Survivor Network whose brother, Sean, was shot and killed in Takoma Park, Maryland in 1993. Sean’s murder remains unsolved more than 30 years later. “I know first hand just how far-reaching the impacts can be when justice never knocks on the door for families and instead, we’re left for years on end to wonder. The Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act is a vital step forward to achieving justice for survivors of unsolved gun crimes, which they fundamentally deserve.”

“The Homicide Data Transparency Act will give Illinois survivors like myself the ability to find peace when it comes to the murders of our family members and hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Marsha Lee, a survivor with the Everytown Survivor Network. “This legislation will go a long way in helping to address the trauma experienced by gun violence survivors, and its impact could reverberate across communities, helping build trust in law enforcement, and breaking cycles of violence. As we mark National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, I hope Illinois lawmakers will take the time to reflect on the importance of servicing survivors, consider us as valued constituents, and pass these critical bills.”

Solving gun crimes is an important component in preventing gun violence and building community trust with law enforcement. By bringing families closure, this legislation can help to address the trauma of gun violence and promote healing among survivors and family members who have had loved ones taken by gun violence. Nationally, nearly half of murders and non-negligent homicides go unsolved. In 2021 in Chicago, which had its deadliest year in more than a quarter century, only about half of homicides were cleared, but less than half of those cleared homicides ended with an arrest. 

In an average year, 1,622 people die by guns and 2,715 are wounded by guns in Illinois. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Illinois, and an average of 193 children and teens die by guns every year. More information about gun violence in Illinois is available here.  

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]