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Illinois declares gun violence a health crisis, sets sights on community-based prevention

Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis on Monday, Nov. 1 through an executive order.

CHICAGO — In 2019, there were 1,367 deaths due to gun violence in Illinois - an average of about four people a day, according to the National Center Health Statistics, and the state's death rate was 10.8 per 100,000 people.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed executive order 2021-29 on Monday, Nov. 1 that established gun violence as a public health crisis in Illinois. He also pledged to support the Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA) and allocate $250 million into the hardest hit communities, according to a news release from Pritzker's office.

The new funds, according to the release, come from federal and state funding, including $50 million from the fiscal year 2022 state budget, and the Pritzker administration will work with the General Assembly to secure an additional $100 million in fiscal years 2023 and 2024.

"Mothers, fathers, brothers, friends are experiencing senseless tragedies in the deaths and serious injuries of their love," Pritzker said. "This work is urgent."

RPSA establishes the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, which will "give technical assistance, training and policy recommendations to communities across the state that have the highest rates of gun violence," Pritzker said.

The office will be led by Chris Patterson, according to the Monday release, who Pritzker appointed as assistant secretary for violence prevention at the Illinois Department of Health Services last month.

Back in August, Pritzker pulled the trigger on House Bill 562, which expanded background checks on all gun sales within the state and provided mental health funding for communities most impacted by gun violence among other things, according to a release from the Pritzker's office. 

HB562 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022, except for universal background checks, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2024, according to the release.

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