By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
With just two weeks remaining before residents of Cook County vote in the race for State’s Attorney, candidate Kim Foxx released details of what she would do to combat illegal gun crimes.
Speaking at a press conference at her campaign headquarters in Bronzeville after picking up another endorsement, Foxx also responded to a campaign ad by her opponent that claims she has little experience as a criminal trial attorney.
Kathleen Sances, executive director of Gun Violence Prevention PAC
(G-PAC Illinois), said her organization is supporting Foxx because they do not believe incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has done a good job of keeping illegal guns from flowing into the streets of Chicago.
Last July, G-PAC filed a lawsuit against three suburban towns—Riverdale, Lyons and Lincolnwood—claiming they have no oversight over gun shops in their municipalities.
“We support Kim because she is a veteran prosecutor with a record of getting things done,” Sances said. “She is the only candidate in this race with the unique life experiences needed to make Cook County’s broken criminal justice system fair for everyone while doing the hard work of making our communities safer. The current Cook County State’s Attorney has not made combating illegal guns a priority in her administration. Kim Foxx will.”
Foxx said it was an honor to receive the endorsement, and she praised
G-PAC for their work in trying to combat violence with illegal guns throughout the state. She said Chicago is facing challenging times with the number of homicides and shootings almost doubling from last year at this time. She said it is clear there is a need to get tougher on people who are bringing illegal guns into communities.
“I am committed to going after those who are not just the aftermath of gun violence, but those beforehand; those who infiltrate our communities with illegal guns; those who knowingly provide guns to people for the purposes of causing harm and destruction,” Foxx said.
She went on to say Chicago has more of an issue with illegal guns than other major cities in the country. Law enforcement and criminologists say much of that is due to Chicago’s geographic location. A major hub for illegal guns, drugs, sex trafficking, and other crimes, Chicago sits in the middle of the country. Foxx said the current state’s attorney is aware of this, but has done nothing to address it.
“We have to be strategic in making sure that those who infiltrate us with guns are dealt with on the front-end. The sad reality is we have a State’s Attorney’s office that does not have a unit to deal with illegal gun trafficking,” said Foxx, who pledged to create such a unit if elected. “The response should be proportionate to the issue. We have not dedicated our resources to dealing with this on the front end when last year there were only three arrests in the city of Chicago for people who were making straw purchases.”
Straw purchases are when a person with a legal Firearm Owners Identification card as required by law in Illinois to purchase a firearm, buys a gun and then either resells it or gives it to someone who cannot legally own a gun.
Foxx said there is currently no relationship between gun shop owners in the county and the State’s Attorney’s office. Sances would like to see statewide gun dealer licensing—an idea Foxx supports.
Foxx admitted that most of the people involved in shootings in Chicago are done by people who could not legally own a gun anyway because they are either under the age of 21 or they have a criminal record. She said the issue of those under the age of 21 having guns is a multifaceted, complex issue and tackling the hearts and minds of the youth who feel compelled to have a gun is where the root of the solution lies.
“The young people who feel compelled to have guns are largely in communities where we have children who are dealing with issues of poverty, poor education and other issues of trauma,” Foxx said. “We have to attack the other structural and societal issues that are in these communities that have young people feeling like they need to be armed. This state’s attorney has only dealt with the aftermath when there is a chalk outline on the ground.”
She said prosecuting young people and those in possession of a weapon illegally is not cut and dry. There are people who make an honest mistake and there are habitual offenders. She said both situations must be dealt with seriously, but differently. She said as state’s attorney, she and her staff would use discretion and judge each individual case based on the merits of the evidence and not use a “cookie cutter” approach.
An ad that claims Foxx has only tried four cases has had many in the community questioning her credentials. She responded to a Crusader question about the issue by saying the ad is false and that she has an extensive record as a trial attorney. She believes the information was put out there by her opponent in an effort to distract voters from the real issues in the campaign.
“I want to be clear…I was an assistant state’s attorney for 12 years, and prior to that, I was an assistant public guardian for three years. I was in the courtroom for 15 years,” Foxx said. “I’ve been a trial lawyer for everything from shaking-baby cases to murder cases, including drug cases, domestic violence and illegal gun cases.
“My trial experience is something that I stand on, and I’m very proud of. In fact, it was my trial experience that allowed me to teach on the national level at the National College of District Attorneys. But, this job as the top prosecutor in Cook County is about judgment, leadership and executive management experience, in addition to trial experience. What failed us here in Cook County is not how many trials this state’s attorney has tried…it’s how she has responded in moments of crisis. That’s where the failings are.”