Well-Being Longevity

Illinois to cover funeral expenses for children killed by gun violence

"Losing a young child to gun violence is among the most horrific tragedy a family could experience. Nobody plans to bury their murdered child — it's among the worst unplanned expenses for anyone,” said Dave Nayak, president and cofounder of the Strength to Love Foundation.
People enjoy the Cloud Gate (The Bean) in Millennium Park in Chicago, Dec. 30, 2012. A 17-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree murder after a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot Saturday, May 14, 2022, near “The Bean” sculpture in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park, which is among the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Nam Y. Huh/ AP

Story at a glance

  • Illinois signed a new law that will cover up to $10,000 in funeral expenses for families that lose a child to gun violence. 

  • Just days after the law was signed, Chicago experienced the death of a 16-year-old boy at the city’s famed Millennium Park. 

  • Nationally, gun violence became the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2020. 

Parents and guardians who experience the death of a child by gun violence will be eligible for up to $10,000 to help pay for funeral expenses thanks to new legislation passed into law in Illinois. 

The Murdered Children Funeral and Burial Assistance Act was signed into law on May 10 by Governor JB Pritzker (D). The bill cites the painful process of bereavement for families, who also must bear the responsibilities of planning and paying for a funeral—usually through some form of debt.  

The burden is especially hard on low-income families, which is what inspired Illinois to create a fund to directly pay for funeral expenses. Previously families had to pay for such expenses upfront and apply for reimbursement. Now, funeral establishments can work directly with state agencies to foot the bill. 

Families that suffered the loss of a child under the age of 17 by a firearm as a result of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and who have a household income of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for the financial help. 

The new law will take effect beginning July 1, 2023.  

“Losing a young child to gun violence is among the most horrific tragedy a family could experience.  Nobody plans to bury their murdered child — it’s among the worst unplanned expenses for anyone.  Today the average cost of a funeral is $9,500 and many families are forced to rely on crowdsourcing or donations to pay for these costs,” said Dave Nayak, president and cofounder of the Strength to Love Foundation, in a joint statement from Pritzker’s office.  


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Nationally, for the first time in over a decade, guns were the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2020, after more than 4,300 children from ages 1 to 19 died from a range of firearm-related deaths.  

As recently as Saturday the city of Chicago experienced the death of a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed at the famed Millennium Park. The alleged shooter was identified as a 17-year-old boy who is being charged as an adult with second-degree murder. 

In response to the violent weekend, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a city-wide curfew for young people, banning unaccompanied minors at Millennium Park after 6 p.m. from Thursday until Sunday.  

Lightfoot also announced a 10 p.m. curfew for all minors across the city of Chicago on weekends, up from the city’s decades old 11 p.m. curfew.  

“You need to make sure that you understand what your young people are doing, who they are with and where they are going,” said Lightfoot.  

Chicago reported 797 homicides in 2021, the highest number since 1996 and more than any other city in the country. However, in January Chicago reported better figures, with shooting incidents down by 11 percent and murders down by 6 percent compared to the same time last year.  

Attorney General Merrick Garland, when visiting the city of Chicago in April, announced an indictment charging 12 individuals in a conspiracy to illegally traffic over 90 guns across state lines into the city of Chicago. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said many of those guns have been linked to shootings in the Chicago area in which multiple people have been injured and several killed. 

The federal government remains stalled in passing comprehensive gun control legislation, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying on Sunday it is a priority, “but the fact is the 60-vote majority in the Senate is an obstacle to doing any, many good things, unfortunately, and again we are not going away until the job is done.” 

However, in April President Biden leveraged his executive power to instate a rule through the DOJ that bans “ghost guns” — privately made firearms that are untraceable.  

Last year alone, there were approximately 20,000 suspected ghost guns reported to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Biden’s rule bans the manufacturing of most accessible ghost guns, like “buy build shoot” kits that are available online or at retail stores without a background check and can be readily assembled within 30 minutes.  

The number of gun owners has shot up in the U.S., with one study finding an estimated 2.9 percent of U.S. adults, about 7.5 million, became new gun owners from 2019 to 2021. They collectively exposed not only themselves but more than 11 million persons to household firearms, including more than 5 million children.  

Medical experts at Harvard University have noted that kids as young as 3-years-old may be strong enough to pull a handgun’s trigger. Three out of four children living in a house with a gun know where it is stored—even if their parents think they don’t.  


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