Editorial: Highland Park mayor is making the most of her bully pulpit

The deadly mass shooting in Highland Park was 116 days ago. The shooter killed seven people and left dozens more injured, including a third-grader with PTSD who may be destined to live out his life in a wheelchair. A 2-year-old whose parents died shielding him from gunfire still asks where his mom and dad are. Members of one family saw their patriarch get shot directly in the head.

In the hearts and minds and nightmares of anyone who experienced the horrific shooting, and the others who ingested enough of the coverage to feel deeply and personally affected, 116 days is nothing. For them, the shooting was yesterday and the reverberations from it may take a lifetime to subside.

To the general public, though, a lot has happened in those three months and 24 days to crowd out the immediacy of the slaughter and turn our attention. Inflation happened, primarily, with the most visible effects being serious hikes in gas and food prices. Inflation affects us all but has the most deleterious effect on people who can least afford it. It's easy to understand why inflation is the go-to issue heading into the Nov. 8 election.

Nancy Rotering, however, will not be deterred. The Highland Park mayor - before the shooting, known primarily in her suburb and among other North Shore civic leaders - is now nothing less than at the forefront of gun control advocacy in Illinois.

She testified on July 21 before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, urging federal bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and has met with local lawmakers to build momentum for a state and a federal ban on assault-style weapons like the one used in the Highland Park rampage. She was invited by President Joe Biden to attend his signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on July 11.

In August, she appeared before the Lake County Board, urging members to support a statewide ban on assault weapons. The board amended its legislative agenda to support state or federal bans.

This week, she implored the DuĀ­Page County Board to also support a ban. That board passed a resolution directing the county's state and federal lobbyists to push for legislation banning the sale of such high-powered weapons.

These are small but important steps that keep the movement alive, and driving toward the day when Illinois, at least, will work out the myriad details and pass legislation that make all citizens here safer. Until that day, Mayor Rotering has willingly stepped forward to lead the campaign, and we are grateful she has found the courage to live that terrible day over and over, so that someday those kinds of days are a thing of the past.

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