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Following More Than 800 Moms Demand Action Volunteers Rallying at the Capitol, Illinois Lawmakers Pass Critical Legislation to Hold the Firearms Industry Accountable

May 18, 2023

Illinois Lawmakers Pass Bill to Make it Easier to Sue Bad Actors in the Gun Industry in the Final Days of Legislative Session and Just After Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Volunteers and Gun Violence Survivors Gathered in Springfield for Annual Advocacy Day

Action Comes Just Months After Illinois Lawmakers Passed Historic Gun Safety Package, The Protect Illinois Communities Act

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — The Illinois chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements today after Illinois lawmakers voted to pass a historic gun violence prevention bill to help hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable for their role in perpetuating the gun violence epidemic. This action comes just two days after more than  800 volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers, survivors of gun violence, and community partners gathered for their annual advocacy day in Springfield to meet with lawmakers and advocate for gun safety legislation. The bill, House Bill 218, now heads to Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law. 

“If the tobacco industry enjoyed the same legal protections as the gun industry, Joe Camel might still be pitching cigarettes to kids,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “If our nation’s raging gun crisis has taught us anything, it’s that the gun industry won’t give a damn about public safety unless someone makes them — and that’s exactly what Illinois lawmakers are doing with this legislation.”

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of Illinois gun sense champion lawmakers in the House and the Senate, and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors – gun safety laws are continuing to expand as the law of the land in Illinois,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “This innovative legislation, along with the Protect Illinois Communities Act, championed by our volunteers, and signed into law earlier this year, will go a long way toward keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Today we’re honoring the Illinois lives stolen by gun violence with action that will help save others and prevent senseless tragedies.”

“Illinois Moms Demand Action volunteers are a political powerhouse: from late nights at hearings to sending thousands of calls and emails to lawmakers, to nearly a thousand advocates traveling to the capitol to advocate for gun safety earlier this week,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “In fact, some of the lawmakers who made this historic victory possible are Moms Demand Action volunteers who are now state lawmakers. This is the playbook we’ll continue to use across the country. We will continue marching forward and demanding action for our families and communities.”

“Families and communities across Illinois continue to be devastated by gun violence, in part due to recklessness of bad actors in the firearms industry,” said Sheri Williams, a gun violence survivor and co-chapter leader with the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Unlike many other industries, the gun industry plays by a special set of rules and has been shielded from most lawsuits for decades. This legislation would help hold the gun industry accountable by making it easier to sue those in the gun industry for repeatedly choosing profits over people’s lives – a vital step in the fight to end gun violence and help save lives, particularly in Black and brown communities where everyday gun violence is so prevalent.” 

For nearly two decades, a federal law known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) has helped to shield bad actors in the gun industry from lawsuits that would hold them accountable for their role in fueling the epidemic of gun violence in Illinois and across the country. This protection has prevented many individuals and communities injured by gun violence from filing civil suits against these bad actors, giving the gun industry little incentive to change their dangerous and irresponsible practices.   

Although Illinois and federal law permit certain claims against the gun industry to go forward, including claims brought under the state’s consumer protection laws, HB 218 will clarify existing law and open additional pathways to hold bad actors in the industry accountable for contributing to gun violence. Ensuring a path to accountability for gun manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers is essential to stemming the flow of illegal guns into Illinois, ensuring basic product safety and marketing standards are met, and finally holding bad actors within the gun industry accountable for the harm they’ve helped cause.

Action from the Illinois legislature comes in the months following the historic passage of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which included legislation 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. The package introduction came after the mass shooting in Highland Park, where seven people were shot and killed and  48 people were wounded at a July Fourth parade by a shooter using a high capacity assault weapon.

The legislative action came on the heels of a historic midterm election, where sixteen Illinois Moms Demand Action volunteers running for office up and down the ballot won. Volunteers elected include Nabeela Syed, a Muslim, Indian American woman who flipped a GOP-held district and will be the youngest member of the Illinois General Assembly, and the re-election of State Representative Maura Hirschauer, who has been a champion for gun safety in the Illinois General Assembly since she was first elected. 

In an average year, 1,622 people die and 2,715 people are wounded by guns in Illinois. Gun violence costs Illinois $18.6 billion each year, of which $625.5 million is paid by taxpayers. Learn more about gun violence in Illinois here

If you would like to speak with an expert or a volunteer with Illinois Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

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