Every year, a small Illinois town gathers to celebrate Independence Day with a parade down main street. On July 4, 2022 a shooter opened fire on the unassuming attendees killing seven and injuring others. The massacre was so far from the idyllic town those in attendance questioned, while the first shots rang out, whether the fireworks display had gone off accidentally. The Highland Park shooting comes mere weeks after the Uvalde school shooting. Now, Highland Park and Illinois residents are wondering what comes next.
On July 4th, a shooter opened fire on a parade. Videos show attendees pausing and asking one another whether the sound was gunfire or fireworks. Then, when attendees realized the sound was gunshots from a nearby rooftop, they began to run. Everyone left their belongings behind in their haste, and when news media arrived their items were still as they left them.
After the shooting, local and national news media ignited a conversation about gun violence, access, and prevention.
What Are Red Flag Laws?
Illinois enacted red flag laws in 2019 that would restrict gun access for those who are deemed “high risk.” Those who have domestic violence convictions, a history of mental illness, or violent crimes cannot purchase a firearm from dealers in the state.
In general, red flag laws are enacted to protect vulnerable people from high-risk individuals. In many cases, high risk individuals are a danger to themselves as well as others. According to gun violence research, 54% of all gun deaths are suicides. This statistic is one of the primary reasons why people support red flag laws.
Highland and Red Flags
The shooter at Highland Park exhibited red flag behavior before the shooting but there were no concrete evaluations to trigger red flag laws. As a result, the shooter was able to legally purchase a high-powered semi-automatic rifle despite being a risk to others.
What Happens Now?
Illinois representatives have taken the case to court as part of the national debate about gun laws. The state has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and many are turning to representatives to guide the debate for national restrictions.
The Highland Park shooter is in police custody, but he does not have a trial date yet. Loved ones of the victims are still searching answers but it is unclear when they will get the answers, they need to find closure. Until then, lawmakers and investigators will continue to grapple with the complexities of this case and increasing instances of gun violence on a national level.
Johnson Law Group will continue to follow this case as it develops.
For more information about Illinois gun laws read our blog.
If you have been accused of a crime, contact Johnson Law Group.