Judiciary Committee Releases Testimony Of Mayor Of Highland Park During Hearing On Civilian Access To Military-Style Assault Weapons

The Independence Day Parade mass shooting in Highland Park, IL, was the 309th mass shooting in America this year

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee released Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering’s prepared testimony during today’s hearing entitled “After the Highland Park Attack: Protecting Our Communities from Mass Shootings.”  Rotering has been the mayor of Highland Park, Illinois, a suburban city of just over 30,000 residents, since 2011.  She led efforts to pass a municipal ordinance to ban military-style assault weapons in Highland Park following the mass shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  The NRA challenged Highland Park’s ordinance, and the challenge was rejected in a decision which was then upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Mayor Rotering was in the parade during the July 4 Highland Park mass shooting, and in her testimony she will discuss what happened that day and why it is so difficult for local officials like mayors to safeguard communities against mass shootings committed with assault weapons.  She will call for reforms including reinstituting the federal ban on assault weapons.

Key quotes as prepared:

“July 4, 2022 started off as a perfect summer day in Highland Park. It was 10:00 am… Nearly 3,000 people gathered along the parade route. Moms, dads, grandparents, and children of all ages were there… We started heading down the hill, and then I turned to my Council colleagues and questioned why the band had stopped playing music and was only playing a cadence. Tat tat tat tat tat. I then noticed the band teacher, Josh Chodoroff, sprinting down the hill on the sidewalk followed by a sea of blue shirts and khaki pants of running band members, some with tubas still entwined around their bodies. I couldn’t understand why they were running when we still had half of a parade route to complete. I didn’t realize until four days later, that I hadn’t been hearing a drum cadence, I had heard the shooting. 83 rounds in under a minute… Someone was lying on the ground next to our local outdoor camping store. People were shot in front of our beloved pancake house. Bodies were scattered on the ground in the heart of our city.”

“My Council colleagues and I ran to either side of the street and screamed for people to run west, it was an emergency evacuation. There was an active shooter. ‘Leave your chairs! Leave your belongings! Run! Run!’ we screamed. The adults stared back, not comprehending what we were saying. The children and teens, however, understanding that this wasn’t a drill, sprang into action immediately and yelled to their families to leave everything and run. We now know that 22-year old Cassie Goldstein told her mom Katie to run, but Katie was instantly hit in the chest. Cassie said that she bent down and told her mother she loved her, but she couldn’t stop because the shooter was still shooting everyone next to her.”

“I received a text from a neighbor with a photo of a toddler, with ruddy cheeks and tears, clutching a blanket. Did I know whose child this was? How could we find the parents? People were hiding in an underground garage, passing him around wondering why no frantic parent was screaming for their missing child… Later, a picture showed two-year-old Aiden McCarthy with dried blood on his legs, socks, and tiger sneakers. No one was frantically looking for him because both his mother and father had been killed. He had been found under his father’s lifeless body and carried to safety. Aiden’s mother and father were shot to death protecting their two year-old son from being murdered.”

“These military-grade weapons are specifically designed to destroy human beings quickly and efficiently within seconds - dozens at a time… in civilian life, people can obtain these weapons legally, in some states with no background check, no training, no safe storage requirement, and no permit… weapons such as the AR-15s used in many mass shootings can liquefy organs.”

“Highland Park had the uniquely American experience of a Fourth of July parade turn into what has now become the uniquely American experience of a mass shooting. What does this say about our nation?”

Full text of Mayor Rotering’s prepared remarks are available here 

Full hearing on civilian access to military-style assault weapons can be viewed here.