State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) invited every single member of the General Assembly to join a conference call Friday morning to discuss a strategy for combating gun violence in Chicago.
Ford and Wheeler, who announced last summer she would not seek re-election, said they plan to orchestrate a news conference on Chicago’s West side Wednesday, which will kick off a 30-day period in which lawmakers will demand city and state officials coordinate a plan to stem gun violence.
Lawmakers said they will insist the plan include elements meant to end the flow of illegal guns and drugs into Chicago’s South and West sides, along with asking for the direct infusion of resources from the state, city and Cook County to violence-affected communities.
During the call, one suburban Democrat suggested that lawmakers push for Gov. Bruce Rauner to reconsider his March veto of the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, though it’s unclear if that suggestion will end up in the effort’s final plan.
Resources for both the Illinois Department of Corrections and inmates themselves also may end up on lawmakers’ list of demands. One downstate Republican criticized legislation passed earlier this year aimed at reducing the state’s prison population, calling the levels to which the population would fall “arbitrary,” and saying the efforts were “designed solely for saving money within the department.”
“If we are pushing inmates out the door, it is working to the detriment of local communities,” the Republican said.
Other IDOC-centric ideas that may show up in the final demand list are job training programs and more resources for a group within the Department of Corrections focused on identifying gang leaders.
One thing that likely will not be brought up again is sending in the Illinois National Guard, which Rauner was rumored to have been considering last week until he categorically denied it. When a suburban Republican asked on Friday’s call if that was on the table, the resounding answer was no.
Though the effort is meant to be bipartisan, the press conference is set for Wednesday — Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair — meaning many Republicans may opt for Springfield instead of Chicago.