Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering met with Attorney General Merrick Garland this week as she pushes for a nationwide ban on assault-style weapons.
The meeting came during what was her second recent trip to Washington D.C., which included testifying before a Senate committee and meeting with White House aides.
Rotering, whose city was the target of a Fourth of July mass shooting that killed seven and injured dozens more, said that in her meeting with Garland and others, she tried to hammer home a message that laws varying from state to state are ineffective in curbing violent attacks where high capacity magazines and weapons are used.
“We as local communities can’t do it alone. We need help from all levels and we need to pursue all options,” Rotering told NBC News in an interview Friday. “There is too much pain coming out of the hands of a few with these weapons and they have no place in civilian life.”
Highland Park, a city that’s roughly 25 miles north of Chicago, has been at the center of the debate on assault-style weapons since the alleged shooter climbed to the roof of a downtown business during the Independence Day parade and used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle to indiscriminately fire some 70 rounds into the crowd. Highland Park already has a ban on assault style weapons.
On top of the deaths, the shooting resulted in massive injuries and panic among families who had just lined the streets with their baby strollers and young children expecting a celebratory day. An 8-year-old boy was left with a severed spine. A toddler was left orphaned after both parents perished in the assault.
Rotering testified in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday where she described the “damage and carnage” where lawmakers focused the discussion on mass shootings.
Also this week, she met with members of the White House’s Intergovernmental Affairs Office to talk about some of the steps the administration has already taken to boost law enforcement funding and mental health services. But she closed it out with her big ask, she said: “can we ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines in our nation?”
Last week, Rotering was part of an Oval Office meeting with President Biden, along with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chris O’Neill, Highland Park Police Department’s Patrol Commander.
“He reached out to me several times and provided comfort and a sympathetic ear and the resources,” Rotering said of the president’s actions just after the shooting. “The conversation continued that theme. How can we move forward?”