Pritzker calls gun violence a public health crisis, will direct money toward fixing the issue

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has declared gun violence a public health crisis, saying $250 million in state and federal money will be directed toward the issue.

"We are united in our commitment to end gun violence in Illinois," said Pritzker.

On Monday, the governor was joined by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in East Garfield Park for a ceremonial bill signing, which they say will help curb violence that has plagued many of the city's communities.

The executive order creates a new office of firearm violence at the state level and dedicates $250 million over the next three years for anti-violence programs.


Pritzker’s office said about $50 million of the Illinois effort will come from the current state budget, while $200 million will come from the budgets for the next two years.

"This is a long fight, not a short fight," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "This is a fight that we must think and reimagine at every single level."

Pritzker called it "an unprecedented statewide investment in the pursuit of violence reduction." He said it's a problem that has to be dealt with at the root level, by attacking poverty and joblessness and creating new opportunities.

"We will do what it takes, individually and collectively to address the immediate violence on our streets and invest in fighting the underlying causes that create too much despair, too much addiction, too little mental health treatment and too few opportunities," Pritzker said.

Community organizations will be able to apply for funding in areas including youth intervention programs, trauma recovery and other mental health services.

"The reality is Black and brown communities are being wracked by this violence," Pritzker said. "Young Black men die at a rate from gun violence 20 times higher than their white counterparts. This must stop."


Among those welcoming the new funding was Tamika Harris, whose son was gunned down on the West Side last August.

"They say it takes a village to raise a kid," said Harris. "It absolutely takes a village to mourn one as well. I was so grateful for all the support I had."

Public health experts and researchers have called gun violence a public health threat for years. Over the summer, New York declared gun violence a disaster emergency.

FOX 32 News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.