Mayor of Highland Park Shares How the Community Is Coping After the Fourth of July Shooting 

highland park mayor nancy rotering

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Katie spoke with Mayor Nancy Rotering about the recent mass murder.

Did you know that there are over 50,000 gun stores in the United States? That’s more gun stores than McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. 

There have been 315 mass shootings in 2022 so far that killed or injured more than four people, and these shootings have claimed nearly 280 lives. The Buffalo supermarket shooting made national headlines and many are still gripped by fear on public transport following the subway shootings in NYC. Matthew McConaughey teared up as he expressed his rage and disappointment following the murder of 21 people, primarily little children, in Uvalde, TX. And there are many more shootings that we don’t even hear about — those that don’t make it to our news channels, but still claim innocent lives. 

The most recent heartbreaking mass shooting took place in Highland Park, IL, during a fourth of July parade. On a day of planned celebration and unity, a two-year old was orphaned, seven people were killed, and now the Highland Park community is reeling from collective trauma.

Katie spoke to the mayor of Highland Park, Nancy Rotering, about the recent events: They discussed how the community is dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, the limits of gun laws, the way forward, and more. 

Katie Couric: Can you give us an update on how your community is doing?

Mayor Nancy Rotering: The community is in deep mourning. We’re all toggling now between fury and heartbreak.We as a community are having vigils. Everybody’s asking “What can we do?” Well, it’s obvious: We need to get rid of these assault weapons in our country. 

I’m tired of listening to Mitch McConnell talk about mental health. There are mental health issues throughout this planet, but we don’t see mass shootings all over the world because they don’t have access to guns. 

We’re furious that laws didn’t protect us; we’re furious that these were legally obtained weapons. There’s a lot that needs to be changed if this can happen. I heard from so many mayors across the country, who had this come to their doorsteps. They sent me a handbook of what to do, because there’s a handbook for mayors — the post mass shooting handbook. We all attended a seminar with the U.S. Conference of Mayors several years ago, and during that conference, the mayor of Seattle got the call that there was a mass shooting happening in her city. This is an insane way for a country to be living. This isn’t freedom. This is the complete opposite. 

Is the only way to make an assault weapons ban really have teeth to confiscate, or get a buyback program, for people who own these assault weapons and magazines that have so much ammunition?

Look at what happened in Australia — they had a mass shooting and the prime minister at the time said, “These are gone.” They did a buyback, and that was the end of assault weapons in Australia. 

At this point, there are more guns than people in this country. That should be very concerning to all of us. When did we give up our freedom to this industry? My understanding from the Framers [of the Constitution] was that they were giving us a well-regulated militia to keep us safe. Clearly, that’s gone 180 degrees, and now we’re dealing with all of this. When our police are outgunned, that should concern us.

Does the shooting in Highland Park highlight the inability of red flag laws to really stop things like this?

Red flag laws are a huge gain; added funding for mental health care is a huge gain. We need to recognize how much has been underfunded over the last many decades in this country. I think people get overwhelmed when they try to boil the ocean. And at this point, we need to figure out steps that we can take as individuals; steps that we can demand from our legislators — the people that we hired to represent us. And we need to put ourselves out there if they’re not doing their jobs.