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As the 2024 Legislative Session Begins, Illinois Lawmakers Should Prioritize Supporting Gun Violence Survivors by Addressing Cold Case Clearance Rates

January 16, 2024

During 2023, Following Tireless Advocacy by Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Volunteers, Illinois Lawmakers Passed the Historic Protect Illinois Communities Act and Legislation to Make it Easier to Sue Bad Actors in the Gun Industry 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  —  As the Illinois General Assembly convenes today for the start of the 2024 legislative session, lawmakers will have the opportunity to build on the gains made last session by advancing legislation that would honor gun violence survivors and families impacted by gun violence by addressing cold case clearance rates. 

“Too many of mothers across the U.S. have had their children taken by gun violence, and far too many like myself wait year after year while never getting answers or seeing justice served,” said Valerie Burgest, a deputy lead volunteer with the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action and Senior Fellow with the Everytown Survivor Network whose son, Craig Williams, was shot and killed at a store in 2013. His murder remains unsolved. “Having closure is incredibly important for healing and breaking cycles of violence. We need to pass legislation to empower survivors of unsolved shootings immediately.”

Solving gun crimes is an important component in preventing gun violence, building community trust with law enforcement, and providing a measure of justice for survivors and family members who have lost someone from 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, less than half of cleared homicides in 2021 ended with an arrest. That figure includes cases solved from previous years and cases closed with no arrest. 

During the 2024 legislative session, lawmakers have the opportunity to pass legislation to require greater transparency and accountability in unsolved homicides. This bill would allow  immediate family members to petition law enforcement agencies to review unsolved murders. Importantly, it would require law enforcement to communicate frequently with the immediate family members and for the agency to collect and publish data on cold cases homicides. 

Illinois continues to lead on gun safety. Illinois ranks third in the nation for its comprehensive gun laws, climbing four spots from a rank of 7 last year. In 2023, following a historic election where sixteen Illinois Moms Demand Action volunteers running for office up and down the ballot won, Illinois passed the historic Protect Illinois Communities Act. The Protect Illinois Communities Act included laws to prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, facilitate better implementation and efficacy of Illinois’s Firearm Restraining Order (FRO) law, and address illegal gun trafficking in the state. Now, lawmakers in Illinois have the opportunity to pass much needed legislation to bring justice and closure to families impacted by gun violence, and our grassroots army is ready to work alongside gun-sense champions to make that happen. 

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, with an average of 193 children and teens die by guns every year. More information about gun violence in Illinois is available here.  

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