President Obama took his plea for measures to combat gun violence to his hometown of Chicago Friday, offering a sweeping appeal for everything from keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people to stronger ties within families.
It was a strong and, at times, highly personal address that Obama gave at the Hyde Park Academy High School, not far from where he lived before moving into the White House. Obama was also visiting the city where Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student, was killed in a Chicago park one week after she performed as a majorette at Obama’s inauguration.
“What happened to Hadiya is not unique to Chicago, it’s not unique to this country,” Obama said. “Too many of our children are being taken away from us."
He repeated his appeal for Congress to vote on measures that would enact background checks for more people purchasing guns and to make it more difficult for firearms to be obtained by people who have committed crimes. He said that the mass shooting of students and administrators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, as well as the death of Hadiya Pendleton, had galvanized the nation to seek reform in gun laws.
The president then discussed the crime scenario in Chicago.
“Last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under,” Obama said. “So that’s the equal of a Newtown every four months. And that's precisely why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some common sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.”
Then the president said that one approach to combating urban violence was to strengthen the role of families. He suggested that families with fathers present in the home — coupled with strong support by father figures and strong family members — make young people more resistant to violent behavior.
“No law or set of laws can prevent every senseless act of violence in this country,” he said.
Too many people, he said, “don’t see an example of fathers who are in a position to support families and to be held up and respected. It’s not just a gun issue; it’s an issue of the kinds of communities we are building.”
He said America should do more to promote marriage and to promote active fatherhood.
“I wish I’d had a father who was around and involved,” he said, adding that the country needs “loving supportive parents — that includes foster parents, grandparents and extended families, it includes gay and straight parents. Unconditional for your child, that makes a difference.”
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)