Thanks for visiting my blog, I’m State Representative Jonathan Carroll of Illinois’ 57th District. For those who were not able to catch it, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion on ABC 7’s Windy City Live yesterday afternoon. Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini hosted the town hall style discussion, but the audience was filled entirely with students and teachers from around our state. I heard from teachers both during the segment, and after the show who were begging me not to force them to bear arms against their students. I met students, young kids sometimes, who told me that they do not feel safe in their schools. I met activists and advocates who were organizing the March for Our Lives, and fighting to make a lasting change. To say this bolstered my conviction to be a part of that change is an understatement.
I was pleased to have my Republican colleague State Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) on the panel with me, but it quickly became clear that we did not see eye to eye on the gun issue. We were also joined by a retired Chicago Police Officer who had some interesting points, and a school counselor that gave us more of an mental/emotional perspective. A Superintendent of schools was also in attendance to let us know what the administration has been thinking through these terrible events.
The two panelists who stole the show were the students on the stage. The level of intelligence, eloquence and passion demonstrated by these two blew me away. They spoke from the heart, sharing their stories and their struggle to forge a path where too many adults are afraid to go. They cited statistics and evidence to support their well thought out arguments. They proved their right to participate in this complex discussion, and I would ask any naysayers to watch these two speak. They were not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, for their safety, and say that enough is enough! I’ll be sure to include a link at the bottom of this post, and I encourage you to watch it.
I spoke with a grieving mother who lost her child to gun violence a few years ago, and I can tell that wound was just as open and raw as the day she heard the news her baby was not coming home. She did not retreat to her tears, however. She joined one of the many gun reform advocacy groups that we met yesterday, to use her loss as an ever burning fuel to fight until the day that she knows that no mother will have to feel that same pain. My heart went out to her, and the countless others like her are in my thoughts as I write this.
I feel like we as a society really need to sit down and have these conversations. That being said, we can’t just keep doing panels and listening to expert testimony. We need to start making concrete changes in our law to protect our children. Quite frankly, as a father, I’m sick and tired of kissing my kids goodbye twice, hoping that this morning is not the last opportunity I have to do so. Please, I ask that you help legislators that are, like me, on your side of this issue. I also ask that you fight like crazy to get those legislators that cower to the NRA out of office. Meet with members of your community, organize against those who chose profits over our childrens’ lives. This fight is too important to not take part in. The other side will not rest on their laurels, and neither can we. I’m sure you have heard about the tragic shooting in Maryland yesterday morning. We need to do what we can to make sure that this was the last.
Yesterday was my son’s 10th birthday, and I’m doing everything in my power to make sure that he and his sister are safe. So fight, for him, for her, for your children, for all of their futures. The brave kids at Parkland, and hundreds of other schools have been burdened with shouldering this struggle, but we can make sure that they do not carry this weight alone. I hope to see you all at the March for Our Lives this Saturday, but we need to keep fighting beyond that.
Link to the panel discussion HERE