Editor’s note: This letter from the Highland Park Mayor is reprinted from the City of Highland Park’s Enews note that came out Monday, July 11. Highland Park will host a vigil at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at its City Hall, 1707 St. Johns Ave. for the community to gather together and honor the victims.
In the wake of the July 4 massacre in Highland Park, President Joe Biden called me to share his absolute grief at what had happened to our community. At that time, he invited me to join him and others impacted by gun violence, today, Monday, July 11, 2022, at an event at the White House.
The gathering was held to mark the historic achievement of the signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Act is a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country.
Governor J.B. Pritzker and City of Highland Park Police Commander Chris O’Neill and I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with President Biden before the event. President Biden agreed with us that the Act is a first step to reducing the carnage, diminishing the fear, and alleviating the suffering of the American public – but we need to do more.
As President Biden said, “With rights come responsibilities. We also have a right to live freely.” The conversation regarding Second Amendment rights needs to return to a point where common sense prevails and our values are reflected. The safety and security of the American people cannot wait. While we cannot eliminate every threat, we do have the ability to take action and eliminate weapons of war from our neighborhoods.
We will not be defined by the 309 mass shootings in 2022. Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States. As the Mayor of Highland Park, I am horrified that our town, like so many others, has been added to an ongoing list – a list that should not even exist. We need a Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Combat weapons have no place on our streets.
President Biden stated that we need to “match thoughts and prayers with action.” Perhaps this will mean that the list of towns, cities, and villages can end. We agree with him, “inaction has taken too long and created too great a toll” and this is not the America we know. It is time for Congress to bring back our nationwide ban on assault weapons and make it even stronger.
Nancy R. Rotering
City of Highland Park