As one student, Christine Goggins, looked over the hundreds of pages of petitions, she couldn't help but think of one of her best friends, slain student Blair Holt, just one of several Chicago teen's to fall prey to gun and gang violence.
"This is why it's so important to me to be here, so we can urge our lawmakers to get these guns off the streets," Goggins said.
Goggins, along with some two dozen teens, came together Sunday representing 1,000 high school students who want the violence to end. The effort is part of an initiative organized by the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"As of March 2008, 18 Chicago public school students have been shot and killed, and as we konw, that number has only grown since March," said the Campaign's Nina Vinik.
The group says 1,000 Illinois residents die each year from gun violence. That's something New Trier sophomore Elizabeth Jenkins knows about. She says she will never know her uncle, his wife and their child because of gun violence.
"I have had to spend my life thinking about an issue that no one my age should ever have to think about," said Jenkins.
The Illinois teens gathered Sunday want the state's general assembly and Gov. Rod Blagojevich to support stricter guns laws that require background checks and curtail high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Some lawmakers say that's a tough sale, especially to gun rights advocates.
"We have an issue in the inner city, and it's hard to try to convey that message to some of our downstate colleagues who, maybe on their child's seventh birthday might be buying them a gun. They live in a different environment than the one we live in," said St. Rep. Deborah Graham, who represents the 78th District.