Nov 14, 2023 - News

Gun control law targeting domestic violence cases stalls in Illinois

Illustration of a gavel on a knocker featuring crosshairs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Advocates aren't giving up on a bill aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence despite its failure to pass during Illinois' legislative fall veto session.

Why it matters: Domestic violence incidents are increasing, with calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline up 15% from 2021 and up 50% compared with 2019, according to The Network Advocating against Domestic Violence.

Driving the news: State Sen. Celina Villanueva, who's now lead sponsor of "Karina's Bill," tells Axios she plans to keep working on the legislation. It would allow judges to require the removal of a firearm by law enforcement immediately if requested by a domestic violence survivor in an emergency order of protection.

  • The bill recently languished in the Assignments Committee, never reaching a vote, but Villanueva hopes to get it passed in the spring session, which begins in January.

What they're saying: The Network's Amanda Pyron said in a statement that the failed effort "is incredibly disappointing to the dozens of domestic violence, gun violence prevention, and legal aid advocacy organizations who joined together to push for this important legislation."

  • Pyron said the group hopes to help "address any outstanding concerns with the hope of action on this critical legislation in the spring session."

By the numbers: Domestic violence led to 57 deaths last year, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported. Fifty of those were homicides; the rest ended in suicide.

  • About half of the relationships in domestic violence-related deaths are between current or former intimate partners, per the coalition.

Between the lines: A domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be murdered when their abuser has access to a firearm, reports The Network.

Context: Karina's Bill is named after Karina Gonzalez, who, along with her daughter, was shot and killed in Little Village in July by her husband, Jose Alvarez, after she obtained an order of protection against him.

  • Despite the order, Alvarez still had his firearm, according to the Sun-Times.
  • Gonzalez was killed three blocks from Villanueva's district office.

What we're watching: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in a case about whether the government can restrict people under domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms. The case won't be decided until next year.

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