I know firsthand the terrible toll that crime and violence takes on our community and nation. In 1999, my youngest son Huey was shot and killed in Chicago. For my family and me, our lives were forever changed by this tragedy. I know we are not alone. While the Justice Department reports a significant decline in violent crime nationwide as well as in Chicago, the raw numbers are still too high. For far too many American families, gun violence is so prevalent in their communities that it has become a horrifying part of their everyday lives. None of these families should have to live in terror or in the resignation that their lives are in constant danger. No young person should have to fear for their life while walking to school or playing outside. This is wholly unacceptable. It is essential that we do everything we can to prevent crime and promote public safety.
This is what I am doing:
In response to the concerns of my constituents, I cosponsored the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1565). This bill would provide improvements to how the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) treats mental health records. This bill would also establish a four-year implementation plan to ensure maximum coordination and automation of reporting of records or making records available to the NICS and would allow the submission of mental health records that would otherwise be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”).
In March 2013, I introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 (H.R. 955). This legislation is named after two wonderful young honors students whose promising lives were tragically cut short by gun violence. A key focus of the bill is targeted at firearms trafficking by individuals known as “straw purchasers,” who play key roles in most firearms trafficking operations. This bill, if passed, would make it a crime to purchase a gun on behalf of another person in order to reduce straw purchases by gun traffickers on behalf of third parties who cannot purchase firearms legally. It would also equip law enforcement with needed tools, including the authority to conduct electronic surveillance to investigate cases involving straw purchasers and firearms traffickers.
In June 2007, I introduced Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2007 (H.R. 2666). This bill, which has been reintroduced in every subsequent Congress, is named after Blair Holt, an honor student at Chicago’s Percy L. Julian High School who was gunned down while riding home from school on a crowded public transit bus. A teenager, seeking a rival gang member, boarded the bus and opened fire with a .40 caliber handgun. He missed his intended target, instead striking Blair and two other female classmates. Video footage of the assault shows that seconds before he was fatally hit in the abdomen, Blair had pushed the female friend next to him down into the seat and shielded her body with his own. In an instant, this brave young man, the son of a police officer and a firefighter, sacrificed his life to save another.
Locally, in response to the issue of gun violence in Chicago, I convened a meeting of the city’s leadership to discuss gun violence on Chicago’s Police Beat 624, the most violent beat in the city. I was accompanied by business and media executives, law enforcement, clergy, community leaders and elected officials.
In 2013, I cohosted a Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Summit on Urban Violence. This summit brought together policymakers, agency representatives, educators, community activists, clergy, parents, students and other concerned stakeholders to share their expertise and thoughts on the most effective strategies for dealing with youth violence.
Crime tears down communities. It breaks up families and diminishes the human spirit. It doesn’t have to be this way. In Congress, I look forward to using these bills as a foundation for the goals that we can achieve. Together we can strengthen our neighborhoods, protect our seniors, and empower our youth.
More on Public Safety
CHICAGO — U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) released the following statement after learning of the passing of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes who was struck in the head by a bullet while sitting in her family’s minivan in the city’s Parkway Gardens community. She was one of two preteen girls who were struck by random gunfire this past weekend within moments of each other:
CHICAGO — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) released the following statement on the Department of Justice Pattern-or-Practice Investigation of Chicago Police Department:
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced two legislative initiatives that address social and economic injustices in policing and public policy. Rush introduced the Laquan McDonald Camera Act which will require state and local law enforcement agencies to have in effect, and enforce, a policy regarding the use of body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras in order to receive federal funds.
CHICAGO — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) released the following statement after U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The DOJ investigation comes after the release of a CPD dash cam video showing the shooting death of Laquan McDonald:
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2015 after learning of the shooting death of 9-year-old, Tyshawn Lee.
“Last night another Chicagoan lost his life to the city’s gun violence,” stated Rush. “Tyshawn’s life was cut short and we may never know why, but we must put an end to the plague of gun violence sweeping our communities. We are losing a generation to self-inflicted murder and mayhem.”