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New effort uses ARPA money in areas with high number of gun crimes

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Firing-Line gun store in Aurora, Colo. (Ed Andrieski/AP)

New effort uses ARPA money in areas with high number of gun crimes

November 02, 08:00 PM November 02, 08:00 PM

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order on Monday at Breakthrough Urban Ministries on the west side of Chicago. Pritzker thanked lawmakers and city officials for their work putting together the legislation.

The governor announced the start of the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention and announced a $250 million plan to help slow gun violence over the next three years using federal and state funds.

“Today with the help of the General Assembly I am announcing Illinois’ next step in the pursuit of violence protection,” Pritzker said. “My goal is to commit $250 million over the next 3 years to directly reduce and interrupt violence in our neighborhoods.”

The executive order will also support high-risk youth intervention programs and trauma recovery services for minors and youth development programs.

State Sen. Robert Peters, who sponsored the Reimagine Public Safety Act said this order is in line with the government’s No. 1 duty.

“Governments first duty is to center public safety by and for the people,” Roberts said on Monday. “We must abandon the status quo because it continues to let us down and invest into our Illinois communities and neighborhoods, this plan will do just that.”

This order is similar to legislation recently passed through both the House and Senate, but would use American Rescue Plan Funds to help combat gun violence in some Illinois towns.

State Rep. Ann Williams filed House Bill 2791. It aims to help communities with a high rate of gun violence by setting up gun prevention programs.

The measure would use funds from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Act, to help communities enforce the ReImagine Public Safety Act. The RPSA was designed to reform police training and recruiting practices as well as reforms to FOID and bail.

State Senator Sue Rezin said she supported the legislation, but said more attention needs to be paid in order to avoid the same fate as similar legislation filed by Patricia Van Pelt in the past.

“We need to check in on how these bills are doing,” Rezin said. “How much money was spent, where was it spent? Did it truly do what it was set out to do?”

State Sen. Dale Folwer said that with the high rate of crime throughout the state of Illinois, legislation like House Bill 2791 is needed.

“We need to take ahold of the state of Illinois,” Fowler said. “We need to stop this violence that seems to be exploding as we all know.”

The bill would use ARPA money to help fund this legislation, but once ARPA money runs out lawmakers could turn to taxpayers to continue funding these programs.

State Sen. Dave Syverson raised questions about the funding during the Senate debate.

“Where are the funds going to come from to continue this program next year when we run out of ARPA dollars are gone?” Syverson asked.

If signed and approved by Governor Pritzker, the bill would go into effect immediately and would only apply to towns with more than 35,000 residents.

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