Illinois members of Congress hold gun violence hearing

CHICAGO — Members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health held a hearing in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood Thursday on the impact of gun violence.

"This epidemic has had painful consequences for far too many families here in Chicago," said Rep. Bobby Rush, whose son Huey was murdered in 1999.

Several other members of Congress from the Chicago area weighed in on the issue, at The Great Hall at Kennedy-King College, on the proposal to declare gun violence a public health crisis.

Many called for a federal declaration that can free up federal funds to study the problem.

The congressional panel heard from hospital officials and those who had loved ones shot and killed.

"Today, I'm here as a voice for my son. I am here as a voice for my community. I'm here on behalf of the hundreds of mothers who have had their children torn from their lives by gun violence," said Pastor Brenda Mitchell. Mitchell's son and brother are both gun violence victims.

Bipartisan support in Washington on measures to curb gun violence have been difficult to achieve. Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican attending the hearing. He said he attended to listen in his search to find common ground.

Kinzinger recently made headlines for calling out President Donald Trump for tweeting a conservative pastor's comment that removing him would provoke a "civil war-like fracture" in America.

When it comes to political polarization in the nation's capitol, Kinzinger said he's concerned of the toll it's taking on the country.

"As divided as the country is right now, I think the next few months are going to be worse so I'm worried about it. I mean this legitimately. I am prayerful that we can stay somewhat healed through this process, that after this is done, we can all come together and respect each other again. But it ain't gonna be a fun Christmas, probably," Kinzinger said.

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