From Legislation to Action: The Impact of Gun Safety Laws in Illinois - City Club of Chicago
From Legislation to Action: The Impact of Gun Safety Laws in Illinois

From Legislation to Action: The Impact of Gun Safety Laws in Illinois

moderated by G-PAC's President & CEO Kathleen Sances
Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Senate President Don Harmon, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly

Thursday, Jul 18, 2024
Doors Open at 11:30 am / Event Begins at 12:00 pm
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Maggiano's Banquets
111 W. Grand Avenue
ChicagoIL 60654

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Since 2017, Illinois has ushered in five significant gun safety laws, thanks to the relentless commitment of survivors, advocates, and state leaders. These new laws were the first major strides of a concerted effort to challenge the state’s gun lobby and address the devastating impact of firearms on families and communities. During the summer months, historically associated with increased rates of gun violence, it is critical to reflect on the impact of these laws with state leaders and explore the next challenges in the mission to end gun violence in Illinois.  


Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, born in Chicago to Haitian immigrants, brings a lifetime of legal experience and advocacy to the office. Attorney General Raoul launched his legal career as a Cook County prosecutor. Thereafter, he successively opened a general law practice, served as a higher education attorney for City Colleges of Chicago, and became a partner at two national corporate law firms.

In 2019, Raoul was sworn in as Illinois’ 42nd Attorney General. He took the oath to serve a second term as the state’s chief legal officer in January 2023. His office works to prevent consumer fraud, contend with crime and corruption, safeguard children, preserve the environment, defend the rights of individuals, and ultimately protect the interests of the State of Illinois and its residents.

Attorney General Raoul has combatted the scourge of gun violence in Illinois by prosecuting gun trafficking cases, developing a crime-gun-tracing database, defending the assault weapons ban, and successfully advancing legislation to hold accountable bad actors in the gun industry. Moreover, his office routinely trains law enforcement entities and constituents on the Illinois Firearms Restraining Order Act, conducts threat assessment trainings on targeted violence, and fights to enact and uphold legislation that promotes community safety.

Equally unceasing has been Attorney General Raoul’s advocacy of policies that protect and provide for survivors of gun violence. His office administers numerous programs on behalf of survivors, such as the Crime Victims Compensation Program and the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Grant.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon

In January 2020, Don Harmon was first elected by his colleagues to serve as the 39th President of the Illinois Senate, vowing to lead a new era of ethical progress as the Senate works to rebuild trust in public service and rationalize state tax policy.

Harmon was almost immediately tasked with guiding the Senate through a global pandemic. He took steps to keep members, staff and their families safe, and he oversaw rule changes to ensure the Senate could convene remotely, allowing vital business to continue.

Harmon, an Oak Park native, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in the fall of 2002. He represents the 39th Senate District, which consists of Oak Park, parts of the city of Chicago, and other suburbs, including Addison, Bensenville and Franklin Park.

During his time in the General Assembly, he championed early childhood education, ethics reform, curbing gun violence, protecting civil rights and expanding voter access.

He also worked to protect Illinois’ natural resources, promote renewable energy and enhancing economic opportunity for all.

Harmon has an undergraduate degree in English and economics from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and a law degree and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly

Brendan F. Kelly was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker and confirmed unanimously by the Illinois Senate to serve as the eighth Director of the Illinois State Police in 2019. As Director, Kelly leads a public safety agency of nearly 3,000 employees and seven unique divisions, including the Divisions of Criminal Investigation, Patrol, Forensic Services, Justice Services, Academy and Training, Statewide 911, and Internal Investigation.

Director Kelly oversees the operations of statewide criminal investigations of violent crime, drug, gun and human trafficking; public corruption; and child exploitation; as well as special operations including SWAT, air operations, federal task force officers, and Illinois’ criminal intelligence fusion center. Additionally, Director Kelly oversees criminal interdiction and traffic patrol functions, statewide crime scene investigations and forensic laboratories, and 22 trafficking enforcement task forces, among other areas. Director Kelly serves on the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, the board of Chicago High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), the Illinois Drug Enforcement Officers Association, and the Illinois Homeland Security Advisory Council. Director Kelly chaired the Firearms Restraining Order Task Force.

Director Kelly has sworn in more than 500 new troopers, initiated long needed changes to the firearms background check process and enforcement of firearms safety laws, and slashed forensic testing backlogs. Working with federal, state, and local law enforcement, and homeland security partners, Director Kelly has led the statewide law enforcement response to COVID-19, 2020 civil unrest, and preparations for the DNC. Director Kelly is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Louis University School of Law, FBI National Executive Institute Class #44, and the Illinois State Police New Agent School, and has a certificate in International Law from Saint Louis University and Cybersecurity from Harvard University. 

Kelly was a prosecutor and an elected State’s Attorney for 12 years, prosecuting every level of crime from gun and drug trafficking to crimes against children and heinous murders. Kelly is a veteran of the United State Navy. He has been married to an oncology nurse for 20 years and they have two sons.


Kathleen Sances

Kathleen Sances is the President and CEO of the Gun Violence Prevention PAC and the Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee. Founded in 2013 by survivors of gun violence, G-PAC was created to counter the influence of the gun lobby in Illinois to enact meaningful legislation to protect communities impacted by gun violence. Since its founding, Kathleen has worked alongside state lawmakers, committed advocates and dedicated survivors to pass several significant laws, including the ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, to make Illinois a national leader in gun safety.

Kathleen is also Policy Advisor to One Aim Illinois, which works in concert to educate elected officials and communities about evidence-based, life-saving policies, advocate for gun reform legislation, and support a gun safety majority in the Illinois General Assembly.

Kathleen also serves as a Board Member to LIVEFREE Illinois, an organization dedicated to the transformative mission of rebuilding black communities through the influential platform of the Black Church. She previously worked on political and issue campaigns, leading and consulting on nearly 100 campaigns since 2005, and also served as the Wheeling Township Democratic Committeeman.

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