School Shootings

Illinois senators join the movement against gun violence

By Kaitlin Englund
Medill Reports

Showing solidarity with students across the nation, approximately 100 Illinois senators, lobbyists and staff walked out at the Capitol in Springfield Wednesday morning to remember those who have died from gun violence in Chicago and throughout the United States.

“We are here today, not as politicians but as colleagues committed to working together with one another on behalf of students, teachers, police officers, parents and all members of our community who should be able to live or work or learn or worship or do anything else without the fear that their lives are in danger,” said Sen. Chris Nybo R-Elmhurst at the walkout.

The walkout, streamed live by the several sources, took place in front of the Capitol building at 10 a.m.

Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake who organized the demonstration, read some of the stories of the victims of the Parkland shooting while members of the Senate held up photos of those slain.

Afterwards, they held a moment of silence to remember Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer, who was shot and killed while on duty last month.

Bush said she thought the demonstration had a great turnout and saw it as a chance to support students regardless of party affiliation.

“This was a chance for us to come together in a bipartisan way,” she said. “This is really about hearing the students, hearing the young people … We just want them to know that we are hearing their voices.”

Later Wednesday, the Senate approved bills that ban bump stocks and trigger cranks, extend the waiting period for assault weapons to 72 hours and increases the age of purchase for assault-style weapons.

Gun stores see rise in profits amidst post-Parkland gun legislation

By Chris Kwiecinski
Medill Reports

Sales in Illinois gun stores have risen in the past month, as gun owners fear their firearms will be confiscated or gun costs will rise due to potential legislative changes, gun-store owners said this week.

The potential new laws stem from reaction to the Parkland shooting last month.

According to Todd Vandermyde, executive director of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, the first mention of stricter gun laws sets off a chain reaction that always seems to lead to panic among gun owners.

“Any time the government moves to restrict firearms in a very brash or broad way, usually it sets off a small panic buying,” Vandermyde said. “It generally spurs gun owners to stock up and make the purchases they were contemplating and had been putting off.”

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After Parkland, a Surge in Advocacy, Illinois Groups Say

By Nathan Rizzo
Medill Reports

Following the Parkland shooting, the opening lines to this latest act in a tired, nationwide drama are being written: Gun control is, once again, in play.

A new cast, however, may be waiting in the wings.

In Illinois, lawmakers on Wednesday will vote on whether to bar individuals under 21 from acquiring certain firearms and high-capacity magazines, and to impose a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases.Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill one day earlier that would have newly applied licensure requirements to gun dealers.

Rauner said the “duplicative” measure would have proved financially burdensome for firearms retailers while doing “little to improve public safety.”

Yet, advocacy in support of legislative efforts to both regulate and deregulate firearms has taken on a newfound poignancy in the wake of the Valentine’s Day killing of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Prominent groups on both sides witnessed a surge in interest following the shooting, they say, with significant input from volunteers – some of whom were previously on the sidelines.

“It’s because we’re all from here,” said Eileen Soderstrom, 71, a retired IT specialist and board member of People for a Safer Society, a Chicago-based gun-control group.

“We’re motivated by gun violence in Chicago. People are concerned that young people in society are in

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Educators push back against guns in schools

By Kaitlin Englund
Medill Reports

As the one-month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting nears, and lawmakers debate provisions for gun safety and reform, Chicago-area educators say that arming teachers is not a viable solution and challenge the nation’s leaders to find alternative solutions.

“I think it’s so beyond ridiculous,” said Matt Walsh, a history and psychology teacher at Evanston Township High School. “The solution to guns is not guns.”

Walsh is not alone in his sentiment as other teachers have called the idea “wild,” and worse, and declare they are completely against arming teachers in schools.
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Immigrants wonder, worry about gun culture

By Serena Yeh
Medill Reports

More than 30 years ago, Satnaam Singh Mago’s grandfather was murdered by gun in the United Kingdom.

“For my mom, it took her about maybe 20, 25 years after her father’s death where she could actually talk about some of the dark things that happened to him,” Mago, a youth mentor at the Sikh Religious Society, said. “It was very hard. It affected my family tremendously.”

Mago, 33, a second-generation American in the United States, now actively participates as a speaker and panelist against gun violence and advocates for commonsense gun laws and for people to take an academic approach toward gun culture.

On Feb. 21, a week after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Mago joined an interfaith panel against gun violence at the Libertyville Civic Center in the northern suburbs.

The Florida shooting also sparked activism from the surviving students, who are rallying through news appearances, town hall meetings and social media to call for tighter gun control. This has caused a push back from the National Rifle Association, which continues to argue that Second Amendment rights be protected.

Amid this debate and with the recent series of mass shootings, immigrants to the United States are left wondering about the country they have moved to – a country they believed would provide a better life. Some have chosen to speak out, others have opted to be more cautious about the places they visit, rejecting crowded events like concerts, while some others have considered buying guns to protect themselves.

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Q&A: Liberty, Security, Sacrifice, Feeling Safe

By Giulia Petroni
Medill Reports

The shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, demonstrate that the emotional impact of a tragedy leads people to question the existing security measures and demand for some reinforcements. The expanded use of metal detectors, lock-down policies and surveillance cameras, however, also challenge people’s freedom.

Are individuals willing to trade liberty for security? How much freedom are they willing to sacrifice? Do restrictive measures really make people feel safer?

Amy Zajakowski Uhll, director at the Chicago Center for Integration and Healing’s Groups, a center providing integrated psychotherapy on a wide range of mental-health issues, with a specialty in the treatment of anxiety and trauma, discussed a psychological perspectives with Medill Reports. Here is the conversation:

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Mass shootings have far-reaching mental-health consequences, say experts

By Ilana Marcus
Medill Reports

In the weeks following the Parkland, Florida school shooting, Chicago-based psychologist Nancy Molitor noticed that the tragedy was surfacing repeatedly during sessions with her patients, even though it happened more than a thousand miles away.

“They were coming in for other issues, but it was the first thing on their mind,” said Molitor, who specializes in mood and anxiety disorders.

“This shooting in particular, I think impacted the public as a whole, even if they haven’t been witnesses,” she said.

School social worker Katie Prahin also noticed an increase in anxiety among the students at her Catholic school in Chicago.

“It doesn’t necessarily manifest itself where you see children talking directly about school shootings or gun violence,” she said. “I think that’s due to what they’re hearing about, whether it’s their exposure to the news, whether they hear their parents talking about it, whether they hear their peers talking about it.”

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