Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Monday September 16th, 2013, 12:37pm

Chicago Parents, U.S. Rep. Kelly To Renew Push For Gun Control In Washington

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D, IL-2) and 11 parents of children who were the victims of gun violence in Chicago are heading to Washington this week to urge members of Congress to pass "common sense" gun safety legislation.

The Chicago parents and leaders of various local advocacy groups like Kids Off the Block are set to meet up with members of the grassroots group Newtown Action Alliance on Capitol Hill September 17 and 18.

The renewed push for stronger gun control laws will be the first time urban families have been included in the larger conversation about gun violence in America, Kelly said at a news conference Monday morning before the group left for Washington.

“Rather than treating our concerns as separate, we are joining with the Newtown families,” Kelly said. “Together we will show Congress that every life lost in gun violence is a tragedy regardless of zip code.”

Since 2007, guns have killed 270 children in Chicago, Kelly noted.

Aliyah Shell, 6, was one of those children. Shell was killed in a March 2012 drive-by shooting as she sat with her mother, Diana Aguilar, on the family’s Little Village porch. Two teens have been charged in Shell’s murder.

“My daughter was only 6 years old,” Aguilar said. “It’s hard for me to go by a park ... It hurts me to see other kids that are my daughter’s age.”

More recently, Aguilar said it’s been especially devastating to see children picking out school supplies while she’s out shopping.

“It was heartbreaking for me to walk into a Walmart and see school supplies, uniforms, kids so happy picking out a school bag, because my Aliyah Shell can't do that no more,” Aguilar said. “I would walk out in tears. So that’s why I have to be my daughter’s voice. I have to do whatever it takes to show these people ... my story and say, ‘Look, I’m living this life. Don’t wait for it to come knocking on your door.”

Another parent, Maria Pike, stressed that Congress needs to pass a universal background check measure to help ensure that guns don’t wind up in the wrong hands.

An alleged gang member shot Pike’s 24 year-old son Ricky to death while he was parking his car in Logan Square in August 2012.

“We all love our kids regardless of what happens in their lives, and we want justice,” Pike said. “If it takes 90 seconds to do a background check, it’s worth a life of anybody.”

Tonya Burch, a parent of a 19 year-old son who was shot and killed at an unauthorized block party in Englewood back in 2009, also plans to push for a universal background check measure while in Washington.

A the the time of his death, Burch's son Deontae Smith was enrolled in business courses at Daley College and was also slated to take the Air Force exam. About 100 people were at the Englewood party where Smith was shot, yet, Burch said, no one has come forward with any information about the shooting.

“If they can do background checks for licenses, jobs, courthouses, city jobs, why can’t they do stronger laws for gun laws,” Burch asked. “We have lost loved ones all due to this bad situation here, and we shouldn’t have to stand here holding out kids’ pictures.”

Kelly said it is past time for Congress to confront the issue of gun violence in America. It's also crucial that federal lawmakers hear the voices of Chicago parents, she added.

“We are all fighting for safer communities all across the United States,” the congresswoman said. “Every child deserves to grow up free of the fear of gun violence, and we won't rest until this is a reality for every child who lives in America.”


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