Yesterday, an admitted White Supremeist walked into a neighborhood grocery store with an assault weapon, killed at least ten people, and wounded three others. I stand with the Buffalo community as they grieve their neighbors, friends, and family murdered in a racially motivated hate crime.

Whether it is yesterday’s shooting targeting black people out shopping, a shooting in a nightclub targeting LGBTQIA+ people, a shooting in a salon targeting Asian women, or a bombing at a synagogue targeting Jews, hate crimes are rising in this country unabated.

It is disgusting and unacceptable. And it is preventable. We can save lives – if we dare to act. We need to get guns assault rifles off our streets.

In Chicago City Council, I supported the establishment of the office of violence prevention. I led the appropriation of tens of millions of dollars in funding for mental health and violence interrupter programs across the City. I will bring that experience to Congress, and on day one, I will take a leadership role in passing the “Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act” sponsored by Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1). This bill will prohibit unlicensed firearm ownership and the transfer of firearms without a valid firearms license and direct the U.S. Attorney General to establish and maintain a federal record of sale system and conduct fingerprint-based nationwide criminal background checks.

The death toll rises because some politicians do not have the backbone to stand up to the gun lobby. They are rising because, for some politicians, ignoring the “hate” part of a hate crime is easier than facing the systemic racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia raging in our society.

Sending thoughts and prayers after these tragedies is not enough. We need to stop forcing our neighbors to live in this nightmare.

Today is a day for sadness and anger – tomorrow is a day for action. We must remove guns from the hands of unstable people. We must be able to stop unstable people from getting guns. We must ban assault weapons. We must take action against Big Tech, so murder is not streamed and glorified online. We must stop hate before it starts. Full stop.

Alderman Dowell announced her candidacy for Congress in January of this year. She seeks to succeed Congressman Bobby Rush, retiring at the end of this term. If elected, Alderman Dowel would become the first female elected to represent the 1st Congressional District.