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Illinois’ $3.5 million ‘safe gun storage’ campaign not yet launched

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(The Center Square) – Illinois’ public health department is devoting taxpayer resources to addressing “gun violence.”

During a House committee hearing Thursday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra was asked if the department is dedicating personnel to address “gun violence.” Vohra said the department has several individuals researching violence prevention.

“That includes suicide, other things, firearms violence is part of that,” he said. “We also have an epidemiologist that is partnering to get some of that information.”

The department also recently launched a campaign to spread awareness about the state’s Firearm Restraining Order law.

“This initial firearm restraining order campaign did take a little bit longer than we had initially hoped,” Vohra said.

Initial funding for the “Pause to Heal” campaign came from gun-control group The Brady Campaign, which partnered with IDPH.

While that just started, a $3.5 million campaign approved last year to urge gun owners to lock up their firearms hasn’t started. Vohra said with the FRO campaign underway, they’re going to soon lean into “safe storage.”

“We’ve done a lot of work with our IDPH fairs to pass along gun locks and other things but we know we have to combine that with the right messaging,” Vohra said.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, said the state has no business lecturing gun owners about safety.

“The folks in my district that own firearms are very, very well apprised of the safety issues on this kind of stuff,” Wilhour told The Center Square.

Wilhour said there are many other things the $3.5 million could better serve for taxpayers.

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