The Daily Herald: Mom to be Schakowsky’s guest at State of the Union

February 7, 2013

By Kerry Lester

February 7, 2013

A suburban mother who lost her son to gun violence less than three months ago will be Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's guest at Tuesday's State of the Union address.

Carolyn Murray of Evanston, whose 19-year-old son Justin was shot in front of his grandmother's Evanston home Nov. 29, has long been a proponent of gun control, participating in area gun buyback programs and candlelight vigils years before Justin's death.

Now, she says, she is even more determined to "keep focused on the fact that this violence and these (gun control) laws are insufficient."

When the idea was brought up to House Democrats about giving a seat to someone impacted by gun violence, Schakowsky said Murray "came to mind right away. Someone who not only as a mom lost a child to gun violence, but has really transformed pain into power."

Justin's death came after he made a surprise visit home from San Diego, where he had been living, to see his mother. Police have described his death as part of an ongoing conflict, but Carolyn Murray says her son was not involved in a gang, and points out that his behavior did not fit into such a pattern, nor did he have a record of prior arrests.

No arrests have been made.

"We continue to work diligently on the case, the investigation continues, but to put together a homicide case in a no-snitch environment is horrifically difficult." Chief Richard Eddington said.

Murray has met with the Cook County state's attorney's office and spoken with Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat, in the belief that police are not taking the case seriously enough.

Schakowsky – whose 9th Congressional District stretches west from the North Shore to include much of Arlington Heights – said she believes women will be a driving force in the nation's gun control debate.

"There's a real gender gap in terms of really wanting something done at the federal level to prevent gun violence," Schakowsky said. "Women are far ahead of men on this issue. Women are concerned about their families. That crosses party lines, that crosses economic lines."

Schakowsky, who sits on the House Democratic Gun Violence Task Force, is one of a number of members of the Illinois delegation who have stepped forward on the issue. Fellow House Democrat Brad Schneider has held local gun control round tables in the 10th Congressional District, and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has introduced bipartisan gun trafficking legislation.