HIGHLAND PARK, IL — As Illinois state lawmakers pledged to consider legislation aimed at addressing gun violence, Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch on Monday appointed a dozen Democratic state representatives to a new gun safety working group.
State Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) has been appointed to chair the House Firearm Safety Reform Working group.
“Three weeks ago, my community faced a horror that forever changed the lives of all of us at the Highland Park Fourth of July Parade. Our community had the strength to meet the moment, grieve, and recover to build a better world. Now, it’s time to act and I look forward to chairing the House Firearm Safety Reform Working Group to fulfill their mission,” Morgan said in a statement.
Morgan was waiting to ride along the July 4 parade route in Highland Park when the gunfire began. He rushed his family to safety at the Metra station before returning to scene of the shooting and helping people evacuate, he said.
“I have never been more committed to finding a solution to make sure no other town anywhere in Illinois has to go through what our town experienced,” he said. “We have the opportunity to work on creating and passing common sense legislation to reduce the violence and trauma communities across the state and the country have faced as a result of the inadequate gun laws and mental healthcare in Illinois.”
Morgan, an attorney and Deerfield resident whose legislative district office in Highwood, was elected to the state house in 2018. He previously chaired the West Deerfield Township Democrats and was the first-ever statewide coordinator for Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program under then-Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In the weeks following the Highland Park parade shooting, Morgan has attended memorials for the victims, attended a White House ceremony last week to celebrate last month’s signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Morgan has strongly advocated passage of a statewide ban on assault-style weapons, and on July 7 he was added as a chief co-sponsor of House Bill 5522, which defines and bans assault weapons.
As of Monday the House bill has 57 co-sponsors, not including the speaker, and 60 votes are needed for passage. The corresponding Senate Bill 2510 had 16 co-sponsors and will need 30 votes for passage.
“I am incredibly honored to have the trust of my colleagues and our leadership in such a serious moment with the eyes of the nation upon us,” Morgan said. “We plan to lead our State forward and work diligently with anyone in any state or locality who wishes to put an end to the scourge of gun violence.”
The other appointees to the new working group are State Reps. La Shawn Ford, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Sonya Harper, Barbara Hernandez, Maura Hirshcauer, Jay Hoffman, Nick Smith, Denyse Stoneback, Kathleen Willis and Lance Yednock.
Welch also announced the House Democrats who will comprise three other working groups, which will start work immediately and their leaders will provide updates on their project, according to the speaker.
The other groups are: the Reproductive Health and the Dobbs Decision Working Group, chaired by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy; the Mental Health Working Group, chaired by State Rep. Deb Conroy; and the Social Media and Online Extremism Working Group, chaired by State Rep. Jamie Andrade.
“Illinois has done a lot of important work to ensure we remain an outlier in teh Midwest in protecting reproductive health and shielding our citizens from the nationwide scourge of gun violence,” Welch said in a statement. “But after the extremist Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the tragedy that took place in Highland Park, it is apparent that we have more work to do. I have created these working groups to take a balanced and research-driven approach to meaningfully reform our laws in Illinois.”