'Enough is enough': Chicago area doctors call for Illinois lawmakers to pass assault weapons ban

State Senate considering Protect Illinois Communities Act, after passing House

ByMichelle Gallardo and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Monday, January 9, 2023
Doctors call for IL lawmakers to pass assault weapons ban
Chicago area doctors called for Illinois lawmakers to vote for an assault weapons ban as the state Senate meets to consider the gun control bill.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Doctors on the front line of emergency and trauma care gathered at Rush University Medical Center on Monday morning with one thing in mind: Advocating for the passage of a statewide assault weapons ban.

"No politician in the country knows what it feels like to tell someone the person they love the most in the world is not coming back because of gun violence," said Dr. Tanya Zakrison, a critical trauma surgeon with University of Chicago hospitals.

ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington weighs in on the fate of Illinois' proposed assault weapons ban as it awaits approval from the Senate.

"I think we can all say enough is enough and that should not be a controversial statement," Dr. Omar Lateef with Rush, said.

One doctor described gun violence in Chicago as a cancer.

"Sometimes I can hear the families sobbing and grieving outside of my office. You can hear the wailing, and the sobbing and the screaming and it tears your heart out," Dr. Russel Fiorella, Mt. Sinai. "You see people pulling at each other, collapsing on the sidewalk in total grief. This is a weekly and monthly occurrence."

IL Senate president seeks to remove key component to state's proposed assault weapons ban

The last-minute public plea took place as the state Senate gets ready to vote on a bill that would ban the sale of assault weapons in Illinois. But, last-minute changes to the House version passed last week have left its fate unclear, with even Gov. JB Pritzker using his inaugural address to warn against passing a watered down bill that doesn't include a registry of legally-purchased assault weapons.

"We ought to have an accounting of the assault weapons already in circulation. Let's get it done," Pritzker said.

But, even as last-minute wrangling takes place behind the scenes, advocates continue to lobby publicly for the ban. Among those testifying in front of senators on Monday morning was Highland Park parade shooting survivor Ashbey Beasley. She was at the ill-fated July 4 parade with her 6-year-old son.

"I've spent a lot of time talking to legislators. Talking to them about the details of the bill, statistics and facts about the guns and today I just felt as I was getting ready to testify that I needed to talk as a mom. I needed to talk as the mother of a survivor and how it has changed his life," Beasley said.

If any version gets passed in the Senate, however, gun rights advocates have already warned they will take an assault weapons ban law to court as soon as the ink is dry.

"We get it. The criminal misuse of firearms is a terrible thing and we work very hard to make sure to make sure that we're serving only law-abiding, lawful, legally qualified customers. This has nothing to do with us," said Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois President Dan Eldridge.