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'You go to school to learn and not to die': northern Illinois students & residents protest gun violence

Northern Illinois residents -- led by students -- held an “End Gun Violence” rally in Naperville just days after the tragic murder of 19 students and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

Claire Comerford and her little sister are middle school students in Romeoville. On their first day of summer vacation, they joined a crowd protesting the school shooting in Texas. Their sign said “No more silence, end gun violence.”

Claire’s sister Annabelle said her sign’s message is pretty simple.

“It only happens in the United States and not anywhere else," said Annabelle, who just finished 6th grade. "Normally, you go to school to learn and not to die or get killed or be scared.”

She said going to school was scary last week and only her classmates were talking about the shooting, not her teachers.

Her older sister rolled her eyes thinking about ALICE lockdown drills they had to do. They told her to throw her books at a shooter. Claire says she’s got a good throwing arm but doesn’t think it would be much use against an AR-15.

Elected officials like US Congressman Bill Foster were at the protest. Foster called on the Senate to pass the universal background check for gun purchases bill the House put through two years ago.

He also called small states’ disproportionate influence on the Senate a “founding blunder of our Founding Fathers.”

“At the time of the Founding Fathers, the ratio of the population from the biggest state to the littlest state was only six to one. And now it's 22 to one. That is very far from democracy, and we've been suffering for it," said Foster, who was first elected in 2008.

Hear Foster's comments

Residents also vented their frustration to the 11th District Democrat, saying things like, “We’ve been voting for candidates who support increased gun regulations for over a decade and nothing has changed.”

Foster shared a story from his father, a Civil Rights Attorney, and said protests in places like Selma did eventually turn the tide of Congress and lead to legislative change.

He also agreed that there is a correlation between the sheer number of guns in America and gun deaths, including homicides and suicides.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.