Gun violence forum set for Naperville's NIU campus

 
 
Published: 4/11/2008 8:41 PM | Updated: 4/11/2008 5:43 PM

A state gun control group is holding a public forum on gun violence on the two-month anniversary of the Northern Illinois University shootings.

Members of the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are staging the forum at 7 p.m. Monday in a conference room at NIU's Naperville campus at 1120 E. Diehl Road.

Steve Young, the organization's faith community coordinator and a victim of gun violence, will be on a panel with a Virginia Tech student wounded in that campus shooting spree on a year ago.

Young said the timing is significant because it's been two months since a former NIU student killed five people and himself as well as wounding more than a dozen others Feb. 14 at the DeKalb campus. April 16 is also the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.

The forum will focus on ways residents can help reduce gun violence and state legislation the organization is pushing in Springfield, Young said.

Young said Naperville was chosen to host the event because of the support residents have shown for the organization's legislative agenda. Universal background checks for all gun purchases and limiting the capacity of ammunition clips are the two main legislative pieces the group is pushing.

"We polled up and down the state and we also polled in three specific state Senate districts in DuPage County," Young said. "What we found was overwhelming support for these bills from the people, but the legislators tend to vote with the gun lobby."

State Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, said Young is wrong about the legislative support.

"The three senators from that area are for the ammunition clip thing," he said. "Plus, I co-sponsored that bill and it's passed the Senate, so I don't know what he's talking about."

Young said he expects to hear from the concealed weapon supporters, but he said he doesn't believe the state will ever allow residents to carry concealed weapons.

"There's really no evidence that it makes a big dent in crime," he said. "However, there is a lot of evidence out there from both police and the medical community that suicide and homicide rates are higher in homes that have guns."