Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering testifies at Senate hearing on gun violence

ByKaren Jordan, Eric Horng, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Highland Park mayor testifies at Senate hearing on gun violence
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering testified at a U.S. Senate hearing on gun violence after seven people were killed in a July 4th shooting.

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering pleaded for a federal assault weapons ban during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Wednesday.

Mayor Rotering outlined specific horrific moments she witnessed that day.

"A photo of a teary-eyed toddler clutching a blanket flashed on my phone. Whose child was this? People were hiding in an underground garage wondering why nobody was looking for this missing child. Later we learned that it was two-year-old Aidan McCarthy dried blood on his legs, socks and his Tiger sneaker. He had been found under his father's body and carried to safety. No one was frantically looking for him because both his father and mother had been murdered a the parade."

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The photos of Aidan McCarthy and Cooper Roberts were on display at the hearing.

McCarthy lost both his parents in the shooting and Roberts is paralyzed from the waist down still fighting for his life in the hospital.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering called for a federal ban on assault weaponsduring a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth also spoke, focusing on the dangers of widespread civilian access to military style assault weapons, like the one Robert Crimo III used.

An organization leading the fight for stricter gun laws brought more than 500 people to DC last week in a rally. Their efforts played a part in this hearing happening Wednesday.

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During the hearing, the committee listened to haunting audio of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during which 17 people were killed and 17 more wounded. Dozens of rapid-fire shots could be heard in the course of just 1 minute and 18 seconds along with the distressed screams of those trying to escape.

The hearing also comes in the wake of a July Fourth shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, and mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.

Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider whose district represents Highland Park, said that "getting these weapons of war off the streets, at the very least, will reduce the lethality, if not necessarily the frequency, of these just horrific fatalities that have devastated my community."

"It's an old topic," Aubrey McCarthy of the March Fourth Movement, said. "It's gone on far too long... this is a political issue in DC ... to the majority of Americans it's not. We support this. As of may 22 more than half of the American majority supports this."

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin who chairs the committee says he wants to ban the sale, import, and manufacture of certain semi-automatic weapons nationwide.

The organization is also excited about progress with another gun law in the works.

The House Judiciary Committee says it will take up the assault weapons ban of 2021, which has been co-sponsored by 212 house members and would ban the sale, import, manufacture or transfer of certain semi-automatic weapons.

Democrats hope that the 100-page bill moving through the Judiciary Committee will pass the House before the August break. But that is far from assured because some moderates in the party, especially those from swing districts, are wary of a vote on broad gun controls before the November elections - especially when the bill has little chance of becoming law due to opposition in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.