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Standing With Gun Violence Survivors of Unsolved Cases, Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Legislation on Cold Case Murders and Clearance Rates

February 6, 2024

CHICAGO — Today, standing with gun violence survivors with unsolved cases with the Everytown Survivor Network and Moms Demand Action, Representative Kam Bruckner introduced House Bill 4753, the Homicide Victims’ Families Rights Act. HB 4753 would allow the surviving family members of cold case victims to seek new investigations. HB 4754, the Homicide Data Transparency Act was also introduced, which will require all law enforcement agencies in Illinois to publish monthly clear and transparent data in regard to homicides and their subsequent investigations. These bills honor gun violence survivors and families impacted by gun violence by addressing cold case clearance rates. 

“Too many mothers across the United States 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 HB 4753 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 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, about half of homicides were cleared. But less than half of those cleared homicides ended with an arrest. 

Research consistently shows that homicides committed with a gun take longer to solve and are solved less often than when committed with other weapons. Further, firearm homicide clearance rates have dropped 20 percent from the 1980s, while non-firearm homicide clearance rates have improved by 11 percent, suggesting the police are increasingly less effective at solving fatal shootings. Additionally, cases are less likely to be solved when the victim of gun violence is Black and/or Latinx.

Every day in the United States, 120 people are killed with guns, more than 200 are shot and wounded, and countless others witness acts of gun violence. We are a nation of survivors: All told, 59 percent of adults in America, including 71 percent of Black and 60 percent of Latinx people, are survivors of gun violence, either experiencing gun violence themselves or caring about someone who has experienced gun violence in their lifetimes. But tragically, countless survivors of unsolved gun crimes in America never have their day in court or see accountability for those responsible, and are denied a sense of closure for themselves, their families and their communities. For survivors of unsolved gun homicides, the pain of having a loved one taken by gun violence is compounded by not having answers or seeing justice served.
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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