Obama to talk gun control in violence-plagued Chicago
President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, D.C. / Charles Dharapak / Pool / Getty Images
Days after delivering an emotional pitch for stronger national gun laws during his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama is taking his message home to Chicago, a city riddled with homicide deaths, as part of his administration's ongoing campaign to build public support for a sweeping series of proposals to reduce gun violence.
Today, Mr. Obama is expected reiterate that call, heading to Chicago's South Side where he will deliver a speech focused on the economy speech at Hyde Park Academy but will briefly touch on his proposals to curb gun violence.
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The president dedicated a chunk of his Tuesday address to the subject of gun violence, specifically honoring the memory of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in Chicago just days after performing at an inauguration-related event. Invoking Pendleton's death, Mr. Obama argued that a series of measures aimed at reducing gun violence - including universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons - should at least get a vote in Congress.
"Overwhelming majorities of Americans -- Americans who believe in the Second Amendment -- have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun," he said during his State of the Union speech. "Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress."
It's unclear, however, if any of Mr. Obama's proposals will get the vote he's demanding, specifically in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, or how they'll fare if they do.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said this week that "Congress does have a responsibility to look at violence in our society and make responsible decisions on how we can reduce that violence and the incidents of these mass shootings."
But he has not said he will actually bring Democratic-sponsored bills like the Assault Weapons Ban up for a vote, and many Republicans vehemently oppose such legislation.
"Laws are only followed by law-abiding people," argued Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in an appearance on "CBS This Morning" the day after Mr. Obama's State of the Union address.
Rubio, like many who oppose gun control, said he would "like to see a proposal that works" but that stronger gun laws won't prevent criminals from perpetrating deadly acts - and that Second Amendment rights are at stake in the meantime.
"Everything the president proposed would do nothing to prevent it from happening in Newtown and would do nothing to prevent further violence in the future," Rubio contended. "They don't follow the law. They're criminals. That's my concern with the proposal coming out... I also think they undermine on the other hand the right of law-abiding citizens to possess arms via the second amendment."
Rubio was ambiguous on whether or not he believes such measures deserve a vote in Congress, saying that "anything that would prevent [Newtown] from happening again we should want to vote on."
"I'm not sure which proposals specifically the president was referring to but I'm sure there'll be votes on it. Certainly here in the Senate there will be," he added.
House Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., meanwhile, expressed concern that the president omitted critical elements of the debate over gun violence in his Tuesday remarks.
"What I'm a little concerned about is the president didn't mention the other things we ought to be looking at, what about a comprehensive mental illness policy to identify the individuals, what is happening in our culture that produces this kind of evil?" Ryan said. "We shouldn't paper over those severe problems and I would hate to miss the opportunity to do that and instead sort of recycle failed policies of the past."
The the National Rifle Association, which has long held considerable influence over Republican as well as some Democratic lawmakers, has been pushing back hard against recent Democratic efforts to pass tough gun laws. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has made multiple public appearances on behalf of his cause, and Wednesday he published an opinion piece warning of a perilous future America, wherein owning a gun won't just be prudent - it will be necessary to survival.
"Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face--not just maybe," he wrote. "It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. It's responsible behavior, and it's time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that."
Thursday, in remarks responding to Mr. Obama's State of the Union, he took the argument even further, calling the president's gun control efforts a "charade."
"It's not about keeping kids safe in schools...They only care about their decades-long, decades-old gun control agenda," said LaPierre.
Democrats, however, show no signs of weakening their stance. More than 20 House Democrats brought as guests to Mr. Obama's speech people whose lives have been touched by gun violence, among them former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz. Pendleton's parents also attended, and sat with First Lady Michelle Obama.
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