President Barack Obama took his push for stricter gun laws to his adoptive hometown of Chicago, as that city endures an epidemic of high-profile shooting deaths.
Speaking near his family home on the south side of Chicago, the president renewed his call for Congress to allow for a vote on his various gun measures. And Obama pointed to recent incidences of violence, including the murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teenager who was gunned down shortly after performing with classmates in Obama’s second inaugural parade.
“This week, in my State of the Union, I talked about Hadiya and the fact that, unfortunately, what happened to Hadiya is not unique,” Obama said, noting that Pendelton’s parents were in attendance at his speech. “It's not unique to Chicago."
The president’s adoptive hometown, though, has suffered from an epidemic of gun violence. The city suffered over 500 homicides in 2012, including a record number of gun deaths for victims under the age of 18.
“That's the equivalent of a Newtown every four months,” Obama said, referencing the deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut in December, which left 26 students and teachers dead, and provided the impetus for the administration’s new push for comprehensive legislation to curb gun violence.
Conservatives, though, have also helped popularize Chicago as a prime example as to why the president’s gun proposals are ineffective.
"When President Obama visits Friday, let’s hope we hear something more thoughtful than the usual rhetoric about expanding background checks, to which gangs never submit, and banning some weapons which they rarely use," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., wrote Thursday in the Chicago Tribune.
“Honesty about what it will really take to face gang violence is the best tribute he can offer to Hadiya Pendleton and the dozens of other children killed in Chicago each year,” Gingrich added in his op-ed, referring to the Pendleton’s parents attended Friday’s speech at Hyde Park Academy.
Obama used his speech at the academy to also talk up elements of his education reforms proposed in the State of the Union address earlier this week, including expanded access to Pre-K education and better federal support for schools and standards. The president also talked up his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hour, though such a proposal has already encountered resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill.