February 28, 2019

Senate Passes & House Introduces Duckworth, Durbin, Foster, Underwood, Bicameral Resolution Honoring Victims & Injured Police Officers of Aurora Shooting


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution introduced by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) honoring the victims and injured police officers of this month’s shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, in which a gunman killed Russell Beyer, Vicente Juarez, Clayton Parks, Josh Pinkard, and Trevor Wehner, and injured Aurora Police Officers Adam Miller, Marco Gomez, John Cebulski, James Zegar, Reynaldo Rivera, and Diego Avila.  U.S. Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) introduced a House companion resolution today.

“The five lives we lost earlier this month in Aurora — Trevor, Clayton, Vincente, Russell and Josh — are among the latest tragedies in our nation’s epidemic of preventable gun violence.  My heart is with their families, friends, the brave first responders and the city of Aurora.  I’m proud to join Senator Durbin in introducing this resolution honoring these victims’ lives.  We must take common sense action to help stop this crisis,” Duckworth said.

“On February 15, five co-workers were shot and killed at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois.  They were sons, fathers, and grandfathers with so much life left to live.  At that time, every on-duty member of the Aurora Police Department rushed to the shooting.  All told, five Aurora police officers were injured by gunfire and a sixth officer suffered a knee injury.  They, and the hundreds of other police officers and first responders who rushed to the shooting, are heroes.  Their quick, courageous responses almost certainly saved lives,” Durbin said.  “This resolution honors the victims’ memories and the courage of the first responders, and our hearts remain with their family and friends during this difficult time.”

“Senseless gun violence took five members of our community away too soon,” Foster said.  “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims whose lives were shattered.  We are grateful to the police officers, six of whom were injured, and the first responders from across the western suburbs of Chicago who rushed into danger to protect innocent people. We must commit to support commonsense legislation to end these tragedies.”

“Five of our neighbors left their homes to go to work at Henry Pratt Company and never returned because of an unspeakable act of gun violence—an unimaginable and heartbreaking tragedy for their families and our community,” said Underwood.  “We will never forget Russell, Clayton, Josh, Trevor, and Vicente or the actions of first responders and law enforcement who saved many lives.  We will honor them not just with these words, but with action.”

The members also sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray today asking that the FBI immediately conduct a review to ensure that records of felony and domestic violence misdemeanor convictions are being appropriately shared across FBI databases.  The gunman in the Aurora mass shooting had reportedly been convicted of a felony in Mississippi in 1995 and was thus prohibited under federal law from gun possession.  However, Mississippi law enforcement and/or court personnel apparently failed to submit the gunman’s arrest or conviction paperwork to the FBI for inclusion in the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) databases that are queried as part of a firearms background check. 

As a result, when the gunman applied for an Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card in January 2014, a background check of those FBI databases did not reveal the gunman’s felony conviction record.  However, the Mississippi Department of Corrections had submitted the gunman’s fingerprint records to the FBI during his period of incarceration. Those fingerprint records, which could be used to identify the gunman’s status as a convicted felon, were contained in a separate FBI fingerprint database called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) System.  Had the NGI fingerprint record information about the gunman been cross-checked with the FBI’s gun background databases prior to January 2014, it potentially could have revealed the gunman’s prohibited status before he was able to obtain a FOID card and buy a gun.

“We recognize that the effectiveness of the firearms background check system ultimately relies in large part on the diligence of state and local agencies in submitting relevant records to the FBI.  We are committed to working with state and local partners to improve their efforts at records submission,” the members wrote.  “But to the extent the FBI already has fingerprint records in its possession that show an individual is prohibited from gun possession, the FBI must make sure such information is clearly identified in the III or other CJIS databases that are typically queried in firearms background checks.  The review we are requesting will help ensure that this is the case.”

Full text of the Senate resolution is available here.  Full text of the House resolution is available here.  Full text of the letter is available here.