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Illinois on Tuesday became the latest U.S. state to ban the sale or possession of assault weapons.
ABC News reports just hours after the legislation’s passage in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” into law during a ceremony at the State Capitol in Springfield.
Supporters, some of whom were gun violence survivors, erupted with applause and cheers as the governor presented the signed document.
The new law bans assault weapons, including some semiautomatic firearms, along with high-capacity magazines and rapid-firing devices.
Nine U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C., now prohibit the sale or possession of military-style weapons, driven largely by deadly mass shootings in their communities.
Americans want tougher gun laws
Support for legislation curtailing access to some types of firearms draws support from 71% of Americans, yet the two major political parties have been unwilling and unable to come to a gun control compromise.
According to The Michigan Daily, one of the most actionable and popular propositions is the creation of a national red flag law. A whopping 48% of mass shooters inform others of their plan before their attacks, making many tragedies preventable.
Red flag laws, which allow courts to authorize the temporary confiscation of deadly weapons from individuals who are a threat to themselves or others, are a key tool in foiling attackers.
Though only 19 states currently have such laws, they were used 626 times between 2013 and 2020 to stop individuals deemed credible mass shooting threats.
By implementing these laws nationwide and improving transparency to encourage individuals to report threats, Michigan Daily’s Nikhil Sharma argues a pre-existing framework can prevent bad actors from carrying out their deadly plans.
Gun violence affects all, but assault weapons kill with reckless abandon
“Research has shown that bans on these lethal weapons are associated with significant reductions in the rate of fatal mass shooting incidents and victims killed,” Delrice Adams, the executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, said. “When assault weapons are used they have an outsized impact on injury and death.”
President Joe Biden in June signed into law the first major gun safety legislation passed in decades. The measure failed to ban any weapons, but it includes funding for school safety and state crisis intervention programs.
Many states — including California, Delaware and New York — have also passed new laws to help curb gun violence, such as regulating untraceable ghost guns and strengthening background check systems.
The U.S. experienced more than 600 mass shootings in 2022, nearly double the number recorded four years ago when there were 336, according to Washington-based Gun Violence Archive.
Americans are forced to cope with mass shootings with no federal solution in sight
According to VOA News, mass shootings are broadly defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter.
Analysts see a link between bias-motivated gun violence and a rise in hate groups and toxic discourse in the United States targeting vulnerable, often marginalized populations.
“One of the problems with seeing gun violence in the context of hate crimes is that the trauma isn’t just to the individual; the trauma is to that community,” said Professor Carlos Cuevas, co-director of the Center on Crime, Race and Justice at Northeastern University. “It is a crime against a person but it is also a crime against a group.”
In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2022, around a third of Black adults (32%) said they worried every day or almost every day that they might be threatened or attacked because of their race or ethnicity. Around one-in-five Asian Americans (21%) said the same, as did 14% of Hispanic adults.
Determined to protect themselves from mass shooters and personal protection, data from Harvard found that more than half of new gun owners are likely to be women.