A proclamation declaring June 7 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day sparked objections from some Will County Board members.
Board members typically approve proclamations with little debate, but Thursday’s vote sparked heated debate on the issues of gun violence and gun owner rights. The proclamation passed by a vote of 18-6, with the dissenting votes coming from Republican board members.
“There is no such thing as gun violence,” Will County Board member Gretchen Fritz, a Republican from Plainfield, said. “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock. There is no moral superiority of one type of violence over another. All violence is wrong.”
Supporters of the proclamation, however, said the measure was simply to bring awareness to gun violence and to encourage people to wear orange on June 7 to commemorate the day. The proclamation also reads that the board would do what it could “to keep firearms out of the wrong hands; and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe.”
Board member Herb Brooks, a Joliet Democrat, recently lost his granddaughter and great grandchildren to gun violence.
“I’m 110% in support of this resolution,” Brooks said.
Opponents, however, argued that violence is the issue, not the instruments used to carry out the violence.
“I have a serious problem with the word gun violence,” said board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen. “It’s the human being that’s the problem; not the gun.”
Balich, a gun rights advocate, recently proposed board members pass an amendment in support of the 2nd Amendment but it did not pass out of committee.
Members of Moms Demand Action applauded the county board’s passage of thWille proclamation and said it will help draw attention to the issue. Though not surprised by the opposition, local group lead Sharon Seliga questioned Balich’s concern over the term “gun violence.”
“It is a violent act,” she said.
Members of Moms Demand have won support for similar proclamations in many Will County communities including Mokena, New Lenox, University Park and Matteson, Seliga said.
Alicia Fabbre is a freelancer for the Daily Southtown.