* Women in this area are declaring war against guns.

Sick of mounting violence, a bipartisan group of female elected officials in Cook County, which includes Chicago and its nearest suburbs, is pushing an ambitious gun-control agenda. Clerk of the Circuit Court Aurelia Pucinski, a group co-founder, said the women came together because male politicians weren't doing enough about gun control.

At a July 29 meeting, the 31 women supported a resolution calling for a ban on assault weapons, tougher controls for dealers, and strict liability laws for suppliers and manufacturers. They proposed abolishing sales of mail-order guns and hiking taxes on ammunition and guns. And they backed the Brady bill, mandating five-day waiting periods and computer background checks before guns can be bought.

``We've got to stop the insanity of allowing all of this violence to continue,'' said Rita Mullins, the Republican mayor of Palatine. In January, seven people were shot to death in a restaurant in her community.

The women hope that their movement can spread nationwide. Ms. Mullins has spoken to women in other states who want to start groups. Just as cold war industries are being converted to other uses, the same may need to be done with the gun industry, she says. ``Maybe we should declare peace in the [US].''

Ms. Pucinski, a Democrat, got involved after a drive-by shooter killed the grandson of an employee. Gun control can make a difference, she says. ``The fewer there are in circulation, the less chance there is that some super-hyped-up, doped-up kid will buy one.''

Elected officials are not the only women here fighting for gun control. Mothers Against Gangs, a group of women whose families have been victims of gang violence, holds vigils each month in Daley Plaza. They vow to do this until government leaders take the action of making guns less available and their streets safe again, said group founder Frances Sandoval.

She has called for US mothers to rally for their children's safety. So far, groups in six other Illinois cities, plus Arizona, California, and Michigan, have started chapters, said Ms. Sandoval, whose son was killed by a gang member. ``How can we be a leader among countries, and we can't even stop an undeclared war on our streets?''

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