Chicago has seen the most gun deaths than any other city in the country. In a speech there, President Barack Obama said “too many of our children are being taken away from us” as a result of gun violence.
Standing before Hyde Park Academy students, the U.S. president unveiled that 65 children were killed by gun violence last year in Chicago.
“That’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months,” Obama said. Twenty children were among the dead in the Newtown massacre.”
“This is not just a gun issue,” Obama added. “It’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building, and for that we all share responsibility as citizens to fix it. We all share a responsibility to move this country closer to our founding vision, that no matter who you were or where you come from, here in America, you can decide your own destiny.”
Gun control was not the top issue during Obama’s first term as president. But now, the president is seaching for an opportunity to act that emerged from national outrage over the Newtown shooting in December, The Huffington Post reports.
He is pushing measures including background checks for all who intends to purchase a firearm and he stands for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, even as both sides in the debate doubt he’ll be able to achieve the full package.
“These proposals deserve a vote in Congress,” Obama said in his Hyde Park Academy visit. It’s rhetoric he also used in the State of the Union address Tuesday.
“In the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun,” the president said at the time.
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” the president, referring to the former congresswoman attending the address who was shot in the head during a 2011 mass shooting. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.”
On Friday, President Obama honored the six educators teachers killed in the Connecticut shooting by presenting the Presidential Citizens Medal to their families. “They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care,” Obama said.
Despite the battle gun control faces in Washington, supporters of reform have continued urging Congress to act. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called congressional lawmakers for demonstrating courage on an issue that has growing support across the country.
“For all those who said we shouldn’t or couldn’t ban high-capacity magazines, I just ask them one question: Think about Newtown,” Biden said, referring to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
Recent polls showed that 84 percent of the nation support broader background checks.
On Thursday evening, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to keep pushing for universal background checks.
“This moves the ball forward on gun safety in the Senate,” he said. “We will continue our bipartisan negotiations on background checks over the next two weeks. We hope to have a compromise soon after the Senate returns.”