The Gun Violence Prevention Education Center (GPEC) and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) are combining forces to be a preeminent leader in the fight to reduce death and injury caused by gun violence in Illinois through education, research, organizing and enforcement around public policy. We are preparing to maximize impact by organizing operations, identifying strengths, and strategically expanding the gun violence prevention (GVP) efforts already in progress.
GPEC was one of the first gun violence prevention organizations in the country to implement an aggressive social media campaign to educate Illinois residents about solutions to gun violence. This digital campaign has reached approximately 4.782 million people to date. During 2019, GPEC’s digital education and outreach efforts concerning flaws with the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card system led to unprecedented engagement by Illinoisans to fix the problem through policy change. A few of these outcomes were reflected in the gathering of 896 petition signatures, the making of 1769 contacts to policymakers, and the providing of 5400 supporting witness slips for such policy change.
ICHV has a storied 40-year history, public credibility and a nearly 200-member coalition of community-based, religious, business, youth and law enforcement organizations. ICHV also hosts a Coalition Summit, Student Voices Art Contest and Activist Institute. Since 2018, the organization has undertaken a grassroots campaign to educate the public and pertinent officials about the new, statewide Firearm Restraining Order (FRO) policy. FRO allows family members, household members, and law enforcement to work with courts to temporarily remove guns and prevent the purchase of new guns by individuals who pose a significant risk of harm to themselves or others.
Using proven digital and grassroots strategies, GPEC and ICHV will come together to build a powerful network that holds institutions accountable for passing and enforcing common sense gun policies. Our merger is well underway. We have signed a letter of intent and a memorandum of understanding that lays out how the two organizations will be combined.
GPEC/ICHV will continue the BIO (Blocking Illegal Ownership/Fixing the FOID) and firearm restraining order (FRO) campaigns. Using GPEC’s digital FOID campaign and ICHV’s grassroots FRO campaign as models, the new organization will also plan and implement an education and enforcement campaign on current gun dealer certification policy. These initiatives will require gathering existing and new gun violence prevention research, as well as creating memorable grassroots and digital campaigns.
Important statistics and talking points will be shared with our list of 13,000 individual supporters and our coalition of nearly 200 organizational members, the general public via social media platforms, and policymakers. This multi-tiered approach will unify the voices of GVP and influence the day-to-day work on gun violence prevention in Illinois. This will in turn change the culture and expectations around guns and law enforcement. GPEC/ICHV takes on these responsibilities to reduce gun access to those at risk of violence, and in turn reduce the next generation’s exposure to gun violence.