SPRINGFIELD -- The mother of a suburban Northern Illinois University student who was killed at the mass shooting there five years ago is pushing Congress to approve universal background checks for gun buyers.
Mary Kay Mace, whose daughter Ryanne of Carpentersville was the youngest person killed that day, praised Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk for supporting background check legislation that stalled in Congress earlier this year.
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"It really shouldn't have taken a lot of courage to do a 'yes' vote," she said.
Mace now lives in downstate Petersburg and spoke at a rally set up by Organizing for Action, a group formed to support President Obama's policy agenda.
"I never set out to be a public face. I didn't really want to," Mace said. "I'm not very comfortable speaking publicly. The only reason I do is because it (shootings) keeps happening."
Gun laws have been debated hotly as Second Amendment advocates and gun control supporters have fought over firearms rules at nearly every level of government.
The NIU shooter bought the guns he used legally, despite having a history of mental treatment. Illinois lawmakers had approved a law to check mental health records against profiles of prospective gun owners, but it didn't take effect until a few months after the shooting.