Live Free Rockford asks local government leaders to address gun violence

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 5:00 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “The purpose of our gathering is the virus of violence has struck once again,” said Pastor K. Edward Copeland.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Don Carter Lanes, Live Free Rockford is speaking out, asking government leaders to address the issue of gun violence in the community head on.

“What we’re calling for as citizens of this city, as well as the state, is a comprehensive strategy to address gun violence. We don’t have some kind of magic pill, we have to have some holistic approaches, as well as new thinking,” said Copeland.

Gun safety advocate Kathleen Sances says it won’t be easy to fix.

“This is a complicated problem, and we have to hit it with from all angles and most importantly, we need to give resources to communities that are most impacted by gun violence. You know, people need access to health care to food, transportation, to good education to jobs,” said Sances.

Brian Harrington, a Rockfordian whose life has been riddled by gun violence, leading to a recently commuted 25-year sentence for murder, says Live Free’s mission starts from the ground up.

“As a community, we’ve got to start to realize that we are part of the problem. And the reason we are a part of the problem is because we’re not doing anything. And so, with Live Free, I want to welcome the community to assist us in holding each other responsible,” said Harrington.

“Here at the end of this year, we don’t want to end the year on a note of despair, we want to end the year on a note of hope,” said Copeland.

Sances says if legislation like Senate Bill 1966 passes, it can transform the state’s Firearm Owners Identification system, making it harder for people to purchase guns illegally.

Though he was unable to join the discussion, State Representative Maurice West released a statement saying, “Our community, our state must come together on a unified R&D strategy. A restoration and development plan that encourages people to empower themselves and invests in our youth, which improves our future. I am fully committed to this - and I am willing to work and partner with LIVE FREE Rockford or any organization that’s focused on this as well. Let’s come together for the legacy of our future, for the legacy of the fallen. My heart goes out to the families of the homicide victims in our community in 2020.”

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