A proclamation to recognize the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day sparked a debate between multiple Will County Board members at their meeting on Thursday.
Amanda Koch, D-Frankfort, read the proclamation during the meeting.
The proclamation lists statistics related to gun violence and cited the 2013 shooting death of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton as its inspiration. A group of Pendleton’s friends asked their classmates to commemorate her life by wearing orange on the first Friday in June to raise awareness about gun violence.
“Whereas, the Will County Board is renewing our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe,” the proclamation states.
Several Republican board members shared their opposition to the proclamation.
Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, took issue with the proclamation using the phrase “gun violence,” because, he argued, people die every day in ways that do not involve guns.
Tim Kraulidis, R-Joliet, echoed Balich’s argument during member comments.
“I also loathe knife violence, blunt object violence, poisoning,” Kraulidis said. “People are beaten to death. The problem is that we’re politicizing violence.”
The two Republicans also took issue with what they considered a partisan proclamation. Balich called bringing up political issues in such proclamations “nuts.”
“I think we’re bringing up some subject matter that are partisan in nature, and I think this is one of them,” Kraulidis said.
Sharon Seliga, the Moms Demand Action South Suburban Chicago area group leader, attended the meeting with other members wearing orange in support of the proclamation.
“Everybody has the right to their opinions about the Second Amendment,” Seliga said. “This proclamation clearly states that this in no way takes away anyone’s Second Amendment rights.”
Democratic board members pointed out the proclamation said the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens “goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from people with dangerous histories.”
Herbert Brooks Jr., D-Joliet, spoke out in support of the proclamation, citing his own family’s experience with gun violence. In February, his granddaughter and her two children were killed in a murder-suicide involving the children’s father.
“I think this is an appropriate resolution,” Brooks said.
“I think the discussion is very healthy.”