ICHV News & Blog

ICHV Honors Chicago Area Winners of 20th Annual Student Voices Contest

“We need peace. We need to make sure that the kids live tomorrow so we can laugh, play sports, live, read books, go to church, have dinner, learn with your family and love one another….”
Mario Ramirez, 2nd Grade
Bridgeport Catholic Academy

Calling for a Safe Summer, ICHV Honors Chicago Area Winners of
20th Annual Student Voices Contest

K-12 Students Present Artwork, Essays & Poetry About Fears,
Concerns & Experiences with Gun Violence

June 9, 2015

Colleen Daley
Deanne Benos

Issuing a call for a safe summer, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) held an awards ceremony yesterday to honor the 15 Winners of the 20h Annual Student Voices Contest for their artwork, essays and poetry responding to the question: “No community is immune to gun violence. What can you do in your community to help change the reality of gun violence?” The event was at Pritzker College Prep, 4131 West Cortland in Chicago.

“Our state loses over 1,000 lives each year to gun violence. Far too many of those victims are children; whether it is while they are walking home from school, sitting on their front porch or crossing the street. Each year, this contest gives them an opportunity to have their voices heard, and build the foundation for a society free from gun violence,” said ICHV Executive Director Colleen Daley.

While the contestants ranged widely from 1st to 12th grade, their messages consistently portrayed personal, traumatic experiences with gun violence; fears about going outside to play and enjoy city parks this summer; and pleas to gangbangers to consider the consequences of their actions before they wield a gun.

Bridgeport Catholic Academy 2nd grader, Mario Ramirez’s artwork featured a map of the world sitting on top of a sign that says, “Stop the Violence.” Sitting within the continents were all of the activities that he thought that kids like him could enjoy in a world without guns. “We need peace. We need make sure that the kids live tomorrow so we can laugh, play sports, live and read books, go to church, have dinner, learn with your family and love one another,” he said.

Alexis Johnson, a 10th grader at Percy L. Julian High School, performed her spoken word, “What Had Happened Was…,” and said it is one of many works she has written inspired by the pain and anxiety of losing a close friend to gun violence last year. “Every graduating class at our school loses at least 2 kids every year. Just last year, I lost my friend, Christopher Jones, and it got to me a lot because that was my first time losing a friend to gun violence and I didn’t know how to handle it. I know it comes out in my work….”

Johnson’s mother, Jasmen Dukes, who also attended the ceremony, said that she was very proud of her daughter, but implied that the award seemed bittersweet. “I just hate that she has the knowledge she has. However, there is no same place for me to raise her so that she wouldn’t know it.” Dukes added that summer always raises concerns about safety in their house, and that she doesn’t allow her kids to go outside “without a purpose or a plan.”

Despite the fact that gun violence is not as prevalent in her community, Julia Schuurman, 7th Grade, Taft Academic Center, said that she said that she chose to focus her essay about ways that citizens can impact the issue through politics, and led her work with President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote,” Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” “I come from a neighborhood that isn’t infested with gangs and violence,” she said. “So, when I wrote this essay I thought about what I could do to make a difference. I thought about politics and supporting those that could actually make changes in the law and keep Chicago’s progressive gun control laws.”

Also acknowledging that Taft Academic Center is located in a less violent community, Morgan Zajac, another 7th grader at Taft Academic Center, said that she was impacted by the presentations of other winners from across the city. Her work was entitled, “1 Too Many, 1 Too Soon, Gunshots Fired, 1 More Wound.” “I felt like the other kids’ works were very inspirational to not only me, but everyone else because it showed that people do care about other people and that they care about not only their safety, but generations after us,” she said.

Jada Bey, a freshman from King College Prep, said that her work, “Walking the Hallways,” was inspired by the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, who would have been a senior at her school this year, and shared what she believes it will take to change the culture behind gun violence. “Talking out. Speaking. Everything starts with a voice,” she said. “Closed mouths don’t get fed. Speaking will start the change to stop gun violence. Speaking to the people who are starting the gun violence, starting with the rivalries and letting them know that this is wrong.”

“Each year, I am most surprised by the personal stories and experiences with gun violence that so many young people have shared through their work. I have children, and it is hard to imagine the exposure of any child to such gun-related tragedies,” said emcee Liz Cullen, Political and Issue Manager at WGN Ratio.

Over the years, the contest has awarded over 200 students hailing from more than 80 different schools all across the state. Their moving and inspiring works have been featured on national network news, at City Hall news conferences and community events throughout the state. Most importantly, winning students have had the opportunity to present their work and share their anti-violence messages to an assembly of their peers at the annual awards ceremony.

Winners were selected by a Blue Ribbon Panel that included: Monica Schneider, CLTV & WGN; Chuck Garfien, CSN Chicago; Elizabeth Sampson, The Poetry Center of Chicago; and Patrice Perkins, Creative Genius Law. Each winner was awarded with an Apple iPad, and their teachers received a $100 Amazon gift certificate for supplies and books.

“Getting students to think critically and express themselves on the issue of gun violence bears its own rewards. Students bring unique insight and creativity to this subject. They have much to teach us about the impact of gun violence, and we are eager to provide them with the opportunity to speak out publicly on this vital topic. We are also proud to foster the type of reflective thinking that leads to safe, conscientious actions later in life,” said ICHV Executive Director Colleen Daley.

Winning students were from: Pritzker College Prep, Percy L. Julian HS, Jordan Community Academy, Bridgeport Catholic Academy, Taft Academic Center, Edwin Foreman HS, Richard J. Daley Academy and King College Prep.

Click here to view the complete packet of all winners and their artwork, essays and poems.


An Evening of Comedy and Cocktails at Second City

Please join the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence for an evening of Comedy and Cocktails at Second City!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

7:15pm Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres

8:00pm Showtime

ETC Theater

1608 N. Wells

Chicago, IL 60614

Tickets start at $100 per person, or you can join at the Supporter, Benefactor, or Patron level. To purchase tickets click here

Raffle tickets are $20 a ticket or 3 for $50.

Items include Dinner for 2 at Carnivale, Cubs tickets and much more! To purchase raffle tickets click here

Look forward to seeing you on June 27th!

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is the oldest and largest statewide organization dedicated to the reduction of death and injury caused by the easy accessibility to firearms. Our mission is accomplished by educating the public about the facts regarding firearm violence and misuse, as well as developing public awareness and advocacy programs about gun violence. Your support will ensure the success of ICHV’s Student Voices Program, which focuses on educating youth on the dangers of gun violence.


Violent night: 3 dead, at least 16 wounded in shootings across city

Three men were killed and at least 16 others wounded during a violent nine-hour spree of shootings across the city that began late Tuesday afternoon.

The spike in violence occurred as temperatures climbed into the 80s and the city basked in the warmest weather yet this year. It also coincided with an announcement by police that the city’s troubling murder statistics were down 42 percent when compared to the same period of time last year.

Just after midnight Wednesday, the month of May rang in with gunfire when a 27-year-old man was mortally wounded in the South Shore neighborhood.

Darrin Rodgers, of the 6800 block of South Cornell Avenue, was shot in the chest on his own block about 12:10 a.m., authorities said.

Rodgers was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in grave condition, but died shortly thereafter, police said. His death was the first homicide in the month of May, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

About an hour later, a south suburban Riverdale man was found shot to death in a West Side alleyway.

The body of 23-year-old Pierre Howelett was found riddled with gunshot wounds to his face and body in an alley near the 1900 block of South Drake Avenue about 1:20 a.m., authorities said.

Earlier, one man was killed and two others were wounded during a gang-related shooting outside the University of Illinois at Chicago police station Tuesday night, authorities said.

The three men were near South Morgan and West Maxwell streets, in a parking lot across from the station, when a gunman approached and opened fire about 10:40 p.m., authorities said.

Tytrell Jackson, 19, was killed by a bullet that struck him in the armpit, authorities said. Jackson, a known gang member, was pronounced dead at 11:13 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

The other two men – ages 19 and 21 – suffered non life-threatening injuries after they were both shot in the thigh, police said.

The gunman fled west after the shooting and was not taken into police custody.

At least 14 others were wounded in shootings across the city since 4:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Full Story »


Credit: LeeAnn Shelton /suntimes.com


Voters Want Stronger Gun Laws

Voters in Illinois are ready for changes to gun laws, and there is a large bloc who is more likely
to support a candidate who votes for stronger laws. They are not by any means anti-gun, but
they strongly favor laws that will help prevent guns falling into the wrong hands and protect their

While opposed to conceal and carry generally, if it must happen, voters favor a broad range of
limits on who can carry weapons where. They don’t stop there. There is also near universal
support for background checks on all gun sales, and strong support for banning military-style
assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines.
Voters do not buy the NRA’s arguments that common-sense gun laws are a slippery slope
towards infringing on 2nd Amendment rights and confiscating guns. They believe there is a
moderate, middle-ground approach, and are looking for lawmakers who fill that space.
The below are key findings and recommendations from a survey of 600 registered voters in
Illinois, with an additional 300 oversample of Will and DuPage counties. A phone survey was
conducted from March 27 through April 2, 2013. Margin of error is +/- 4 percent for the total
electorate and +/- 5 percent for Will and DuPage counties (combined).
Lawmakers’ positions on guns can impact elections in a way that benefits candidates
who support stronger gun laws. Voters in Illinois are now ready to vote on this issue—and in
contrast to conventional wisdom, are now more likely to support a candidate who supports
stronger gun laws by a wide margin over one who does not. Four times as many voters say they
are more likely to support a candidate who favors stronger guns laws than someone who does
not, a stunning margin as shown in the table below. Fifty-six percent (including 51 percent of
gun owners) are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong conceal and carry
law; only 13 percent will support a candidate who wants a weak law.


Most impressive here is the intensity: 40 percent are “much” more likely to support a candidate
who wants a strong law. This is nearly twice what we normally see, and 13 points higher than
those who say conceal and carry will make no difference on their vote.
The impact is even higher when asked about additional gun laws and background checks. Sixtytwo
percent are more likely to vote for a candidate who supported a strong law with even more
provisions outside of conceal and carry, such as universal background checks, limiting
ammunition magazines, banning military-style assault weapons, and registering guns. And if the
question is limited to background checks as the only additional gun law, 68 percent are more
likely to vote for a candidate who supports a strong gun law that includes background checks on
all gun sales.

Illinois voters are more concerned with protecting people from gun violence. Fifty-nine
percent want stronger gun laws, including 48 percent of gun owners. And indicating how far they
are willing to go to keep people safe, by a 14 point margin, Illinois voters believe that it is more
important to protect people from gun violence than it is to protect the rights of gun owners (53-

This is not to say the people of Illinois are anti-gun. They are not. One-third of voters report
having at least 1 gun in their household. Nor are the gun owners of Illinois more Republican: 44
percent are Democrats and 46 percent are Republicans. As we’ll see more of below, commonsense
gun laws cut across party and gun-ownership lines.

Voters in Illinois are ready to do something about gun violence.
If conceal and carry is required, there is broad and deep support for a range of
regulations. To be clear, most don’t even want conceal and carry at all: 53 percent oppose
allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public. But if conceal and carry must be the law
of the land, voters were very clear about wanting a strong law with a range of restrictions. The
table below shows that a range of provisions to conceal and carry receive strong support,
including requiring those who want to carry a weapon to attend mandatory safety classes,
forbidding concealed weapons in schools, casinos, buses, colleges, and any place the serves
alcohol, and requiring those who want to carry to show a clean record and demonstrate a good
reason to need it.

Student Voices
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Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) is the oldest and largest statewide organization in the U.S. working to prevent the devastation caused by firearms. Founded in 1975 by four suburban Chicago women concerned about the tragic consequences of handgun proliferation and availability, ICHV works on a variety of fronts to educate, raise public awareness, and build coalitions to enact change in laws and behavior. For 40 years, ICHV has been a leader among state gun violence prevention groups.


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