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Kinzinger Weighs In On Shootings While Touring Region

Sarah Jesmer
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, center, tours downtown DeKalb with city officials like Mayor Jerry Smith, right, on August 6.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger toured parts of his northern Illinois district on Tuesday. 

Tour stops included Rockford and Morris, and regional events for National Night Out, he said.

In DeKalb, Kinzinger and city officials like Mayor Jerry Smith, City Manager Bill Nicklas, and Alderman Carolyn Morris were joined by Northern Illinois University representatives in a bus tour around the city. 

Officials talked about revitalization efforts of the Annie Glidden North neighborhood, possible expansion of high-traffic roads near I-88 and economic opportunities to bring business and industry to the municipality.

“In many cases, [potential industrial investors] make a decision on what’s the business climate, what’s the personnel available, who can come work here, but also how easy is it to get trucks and trains and airplanes and stuff out of here. That’s a big roll we play,” he said about federal jurisdiction in municipal economic development. 

Representatives from NIU also showcased their Discover code_orange Program, created in 2018 to be an innovation program for programming and technology.

“I think the labs and the great things that NIU is doing in terms of kind of STEM education and some of the partnerships that they have brought in here on that has always been impressive to me,”  he said.

The Republican also offered comment on next steps forward after recent shootings in Ohio and Texas. America is grappling with issues of racism and gun control in the wake of gun violence. 

Kinzinger said the gun control debate, specifically as to whether assault weapons should be available to civilians, is valid but he isn’t optimistic it will be promptly solved. He said mass shootings stem from mental health issues. 

“This mass shooting is a thing that goes beyond politics -- it’s a real heart issue,” he said.

He said it’s time for mass shootings to end. 

“There’s such a deeper part of this, too. And we’ve got to address that in kids. They feel lonely, they feel disconnected, they’ve turned to social media and feel hollow, they desperately seek fame and fame makes you actually feel more hollow and then they lash out like this,” said Kinzinger. 

President Trumpalso stated that mental illness and hatred is the cause of gun violence. Trump’s comments sparked a national discussion about the dangers of white supremacy. 

The El Paso shooting suspect’s alleged motivations were racist, according to a manifesto published online that pointed to white supremist ideologies. The El Paso shooter targeted the Latino community, according to the manifesto.

“Quit making [shooters] famous,” he said about publicizing the names and pictures of shooters.

Kinzinger said the First Amendment permits any idea and it’s publication as long as people aren’t violent.

“I think everyone has a right to be a white supremacist and a racist...black supremacists, anything, right? It’s America. The difference is when you take your belief and turn it into political violence, that becomes terrorism,” he said. “Now, if you’re an international terrorist and not a US citizen, we have tools we can use because you don’t have constitutional protection, so we take all that into account. But I also think we need to be not quick to jump on every shooting in a political motive.”

Kinzinger said he hates white supremacy as much as he hates ISIS. 


He published a post on Medium recently about next steps forward in regards to hate, domestic terrorism and gun legislation. He said he supports raising the handgun-buying age to 21 and tightening background checks.