On Friday, February 15, President Obama visited Chicago in order to highlight his new gun control proposals.
Obama’s visit came only days after the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a teen who was killed after getting caught in the crossfire of gang violence.
Addressing a crowd in Hyde Park–the South Side Chicago neighborhood where he maintains a home-the President said he stood before them to “work towards giving every child every chance in life” with more gun control policies, though he insisted the problems aren’t “just a gun issue.”
Even as the President noted that the violence Chicago faces isn’t “just a gun issue,” in his speech he did not mention what some of those other causes might be. The President, for instance, never once said the word “gang” during his speech even though gang violence has been wildly on the increase in Chicago for years.
Shooting deaths in Chicago were up 20 percent in 2012 with nearly all linked to gang warfare.
“It’s crazy,” said Commander Leo Schmitz of the Chicago Police Department’s 7th district. “What used to be a fist fight now turns into, ‘Let’s go to the guns.'”
Without mentioning the rise in gang activity, Obama characterized the rise in violence as “children shooting children.”
“When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill, only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole,” he said. “There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. For a lot of young boys and young men in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.”
Obama fell back on his “deserve a vote” theme from his State of the Union speech.
“The experience of gun ownership is different in urban areas than it is in rural areas, different from upstate and downstate Illinois,” the President said. “But these proposals deserve a vote in Congress. They deserve a vote. And I want to thank those members of Congress who are working together in a serious way to try to address this issue.”
The President also used his speech to push the tax hikes and minimum wage hikes he proposed during his State of the Union speech.