Advocacy groups are pushing state Illinois lawmakers to pass domestic violence firearms bill

by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

Illinois enacted a "red flag" gun law in 2018 that gives courts authority to use emergency orders to remove guns from people who are a danger to themselves and others. However, Illinois has rarely used such emergency orders.
CHICAGO - Domestic violence and gun violence prevention advocates are urging the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill to strengthen state laws protecting people who file restraining orders.

The proposed law is named for domestic violence victim Karina Gonzalez, who was shot and killed by her husband. The measure would require law enforcement officers to quickly remove guns from people who have orders of protection against them.

Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network, says Karina's Bill would close numerous loopholes in the current law.

"Karina's Bill will clarify and strengthen the law to give law enforcement a clear directive to remove the firearm from the home when an order of protection is granted with the firearm remedy by a judge," she contended. "So this isn't something that survivors can do on their own."

Gonzalez and her 15-year-old daughter were shot and killed shortly after obtaining a restraining order in July against her husband Jose Alvarez. Backers are asking legislators to pass the bill during the year-end session, which begins October 24th. Gun rights advocates oppose it, claiming it violates the Second Amendment.

Illinois enacted a "red flag" gun law in 2018 that gives courts authority to use emergency orders to remove guns from people who are a danger to themselves and others. However, Illinois has rarely used such emergency orders.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said the presence of firearms in the home significantly increases the likelihood of death or serious injury.

"One research study of intimate partner homicides found that among victims who had orders of protection, one-fifth of victims were killed within two days of the order being issued. About one-third were killed within a month. This is unacceptable," she continued.

Records show that Gonzalez reported her husband's abusive behavior to the police and took out an order of protection against him. The order required Alvarez to voluntarily surrender the gun and move out of the house. He did neither. Alvarez was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail.

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