© 2024 Peoria Public Radio
A joint service of Bradley University and Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Advocates renew push to tighten firearm laws aimed at protecting domestic violence victims

Advocates from the organization Moms Demand Action gather outside the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday. They are urging lawmakers to pass legislation they believe will reduce gun violence.
Capitol News Illinois image by Andrew Campbell
Advocates from the organization Moms Demand Action gather outside the Illinois State Capitol on Tuesday. They are urging lawmakers to pass legislation they believe will reduce gun violence.

Advocates for stricter gun laws rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday for a measure aimed at protecting domestic violence victims and two other criminal justice reforms.

The bills are backed by organizations such as Moms Demand Action and One Aim Illinois among others.

“These policies support those communities most impacted by the gun violence crisis,” Yolanda Androzzo, One Aim Illinois program director, said at a rally Tuesday. “It's an opportunity to ensure protection and justice for survivors of gun violence.”

A proposal dubbed Karina’s Bill, contained in House Bill 4469and Senate Bill 2633, is a response to the 2023 shooting death of Karina Gonzalez and her daughter in Chicago. Gonzalez’s husband, Jose Alvarez, had an order of protection against him when he was alleged to have committed the murder last year.

READ MORE: Advocates push for guns to be taken from domestic abusers when order of protection served

The measure would clarify the process for victims who seek specific orders of protection under the state’s firearm remedy – one of 18 specific remedies that can accompany an order of protection. Individuals can petition the court for such a remedy, and the bill would amend the process for what happens when it is granted.

Karina’s Bill would require law enforcement to confiscate firearms when an emergency order of protection is granted with a firearm remedy. It would also require a judge to issue a search warrant in cases where the remedy is granted, provided the judge finds there is probable cause that the individual possesses a firearm and is a threat to the victim.

The proposal would also prohibit gun owners from transferring the firearms to another individual instead of surrendering them to law enforcement along with their Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, card.

The bill also adds an “intimate partner” — such as present and past spouses, dating or engaged relationships — to the list of those who can petition for a firearm restraining order. Previously, only family members and law enforcement officers could petition for such a remedy.

Both versions of the bill are still in committee.

“Gun violence is occurring way too often in our communities, in our schools, in our malls, everywhere,” bill sponsor Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said at Tuesday’s rally. “The reason why I’m championing Karina’s law is because I want to make sure that Karina and Daniela’s names never be forgotten. That what they went through never be forgotten.”

House Bill 4753, known as the Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act, would allow people to petition law enforcement to review murder cases that have been unsolved for at least three years. Officers who worked on the case previously would not be allowed to participate in the review. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, passed out of a committee on a 13-2 vote on April 4 and is awaiting action in the House.

“These bills, these actions, these pieces of policies have come directly from you,” Buckner told rallygoers Tuesday. “And unfortunately, they’ve come from the pain that many of you have endured.”

Buckner is also the sponsor of House Bill 4754, which would amend the Uniform Crime Reporting Act. The bill would require law enforcement agencies to digitally publish statistics of homicides and nonfatal shootings including if the cases are cleared or closed, if an arrest was made, and if the case was submitted to their local state’s attorney’s office.

“Without accurate homicide statistics we can’t create evidence-based solutions to our county’s gun violence problem,” Alicia Schemel, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, said.

The bill cleared committee on a 10-5 vote earlier this month and is awaiting action in the House.

Capitol News Illinoisis a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Cole is a graduate student reporter enrolled in the Public Affairs Reporting program at UIS.