Highland Park parade shooting survivors rally in Washington for stricter gun laws, assault rifle ban

Highland Park shooting victims included 7 dead, at least 39 injured

ByLiz Nagy, Diane Pathieu, and Maher Kawash via WLS logo
Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Survivors of the Highland Park, Illinois parade shooting rallied in Washington Wednesday, as they push for gun control.

WASHINGTON (WLS) -- Highland Park parade shooting survivors led a rally in Washington D.C. Wednesday calling for stricter gun control and a federal assault weapons ban.

The Highland Park survivors, along with survivors and families from Uvalde, Texas, have been in the nation's capital all week, meeting with lawmakers in advance of this rally.

Highland Park marks 1 week since deadly parade shooting with moment of silence

Speakers shared harrowing stories of surviving mass shootings during the rally.

"I am disgusted to now say that I am a survivor of gun violence," said Erin McGlinchey. "A title that is likely to leave me with no only mental but physical scars. I hope you're uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable. Let's begin."

Gun control is one of the most polarizing issues in Congress, with the United States signing no meaningful gun legislation for nearly 30 years until recently. The nation's assault weapon ban, signed by President Bill Clinton, expired and has not been renewed.

"I want my presence here today to change our legislation, for not only those whose lives were lost or injured by gunfire, but for every child who ran for their lives last Monday on the Fourth of July," said Ravi Pearl, Highland Park survivors.

"We're going to fight like hell until we get some gun control laws," said Katie Bamonte of Naperville.

READ MORE: Suburban moms band together for grassroots phone bank to change gun laws at a national level

Angel Garza and Kimberly Garcia don't remember happiness; it died with their daughter in a classroom in Uvalde, Texas.

"We will never be the same people again," Garza said. "Our son will never be the same. Our family will never be whole again."

They said their fight to save more children from assault weapons it's optional.

"It makes us angry because we're having to do this," Garza said. "This shouldn't even be a thing. This shouldn't be a fight. This should be a human being responsibility that we can all see."

Tania Morgan of Highland Park said after the parade shooting, her two children, aged 2 and 6, no longer feel safe anywhere.

"I haven't explained to them that this is the world. I just explained to them that this was the day. They don't know yet that this is how our world is. Maybe I can change it," she said. "I'm trying."

RELATED: Highland Park mayor, Gov. Pritzker join Biden to mark passing of gun safety law

Last month, Congress passed the first significant piece of gun legislation in 30 years with bipartisan support.

"The legislation we're voting on in the house today is legislation that will ensure that next time this happens, and, though there shouldn't be a next time we know that there will be, that communities will be able to get the information they need that will save lives. That's a step, but we need to do so much more. We need to not only ban assault weapons, we need universal background checks," said U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Highland Park.

It expands background checks for prospective gun buyers aged 18-21, but falls far short of restricting gun sales or banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

"We need to raise the buying age for assault weapons. We need to ban them. We need to ban high capacity magazines," said U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois). "The leading killer of children under the age of 16 in this country is gun violence. It's gun violence and I want to be angry, because I am angry, and you need to be angry."

Congress attempted to pass an assault weapons ban in June, but it failed.

On Tuesday in Washington, families of survivors emerged from closed-door Congressional meetings. They shared their stories with lawmakers.

SEE MORE: Highland Park shooting: Paralyzed 8-year-old back in critical condition, completes 7th surgery

"Just thinking about how much worse it could've been, how we're the lucky ones -- I think even if it can just impact one person to change the way they think about gun control," Highland Park survivor Natalie Lorentz said.

And these families affected by gun violence are making their voices heard Wednesday, too. They are joining forces with an expected crowd of hundreds for a rally on Capitol Hill.

In Highland Park, another large crowd is expected at 7 p.m. outside City Hall for a vigil.