Pritzker in Aurora advocates for gun reform as Bailey warns about Safe-T Act

Gov. J.B. Pritzker advocated for a statewide ban on what have been called assault weapons as well as high-capacity magazines at an event Tuesday in Aurora where two mothers who lost children to gun violence urged reforms.

Pritzker's rival in the Nov. 8 election, state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, had no official events Tuesday but told supporters in a video Monday his campaign was focused on "crime, taxes and failing schools." Bailey has decried the Safe-T Act, which ends cash bail in 2023, expands body camera use and revises use-of-force standards, among other changes.

At Pritzker's appearance, Bonnie Rich spoke about her son Trevor Wehner, 21, who was starting an internship at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora on Feb. 15, 2019, when an employee undergoing a disciplinary hearing pulled out a handgun and killed him along with four others.

"He was looking forward to his graduation from Northern Illinois University," Rich said. "He was never able to cash his first paycheck or save it for an engagement ring. He was never able to walk down the aisle with the love of his life. Our lives were shattered that day and we're still picking up the pieces."

Chicagoan Delphine Cherry described her daughter Tyesa, 16, dying after a stray bullet fired by a 14-year-old hit her in 1992. Her son Tyler, 20, was shot and killed outside her home in 2012.

Tyesa planned to be a nurse and Tyler an occupational therapist. "To lose my first born and my last born ... it's been rough on me," Cherry said.

In addition to a ban on assault-style weapons in Illinois, "we also need to get rid of high-capacity magazines," said Pritzker, who was endorsed by the Gun Violence Prevention PAC and Giffords PAC related to former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded by gunfire in 2011.

High-capacity magazines "were used by the Highland Park shooter," Pritzker said, referencing the mass shooting at the Highland Park July 4 parade that killed seven people.

"Eighty-three bullets shot in less than a minute. We do not need anybody owning a high-capacity magazine. There's no sporting use for it, there's no self-defense use for it, frankly it's just dangerous."

While Pritzker has pushed for tougher gun laws, Bailey has spoken out against the Safe-T Act, passed by Democrats and signed into law in 2021. Democrats say it will level the playing field for minorities, but Bailey has promised to repeal the Safe-T Act and predicts a spike in crime when cash bail is eliminated in 2023.

Crime "is devastating and ravaging our country and the city of Chicago, and it is going to be unleashed on Jan. 1 - make no bones about it," Bailey said.

Under Pritzker, "mental health is a disaster, our schools are a disaster, he has nothing to show for it. That's what the press should be talking about, but they're not. They're continuing on the craziness of Republicans running for office."

Bailey spokesman Joe DuBose said Tuesday that "if J.B. Pritzker cared about keeping people safe he wouldn't be pushing his dangerous Safe-T Act and no cash bail that will flood our streets with violent criminals. Darren Bailey is the only candidate in this race committed to making Illinois safer and more affordable for everyone."

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  Sen. Darren Bailey holds a press event in August announcing support from Illinois FOP President Chris Southwood, right, and FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara, standing behind him. Marni Pyke/
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