One year ago today, the Pulse nightclub shooting brought immense grief to our nation and reminded us about the havoc guns can reap on America’s most vulnerable communities. The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) was deeply saddened by the death of 49 members of the broader LGBTQ and Latinx community. We were also deeply moved to end gun violence in Chicago and across the U.S., which most deeply affects the same Black and brown communities as health inequities like HIV.
We collaborated with our Board of Directors and the greater health equity community to find our place in this conversation about ending gun violence, and in October 2016 we released our position statement on gun violence and community violence. In short, it lays out the case that gun violence prevention in our nation’s most vulnerable communities is a public health imperative, and as a health equity-seeking organization, we must join our anti-violence community partners and end gun violence once and for all.
Our biggest step toward ending gun violence in Illinois in the past year was our partnership with the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition to support the Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657), which would curb the distribution of illegally trafficked firearms in Illinois. For the first time, AFC’s Director of Government Relations Dan Frey represented the organization on gun-related legislation; the bill has already passed the senate and is awaiting a hearing in the house now. We will continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with our community partners to fight for legislation that ultimately ends gun violence among communities most vulnerable to health inequities like HIV.
While we continue to grieve the Pulse nightclub shooting, we honor the memory of those who lost their lives in that horrific attack by fighting for safety for vulnerable communities working toward health equity and justice in Chicago and beyond.