Friday, February 15, 2013

Why President Obama went to Chicago today

In the push to pass sensible measures to prevent gun violence - the face of the problem has become the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT. And that is understandable.

But it doesn't end there. As President Obama said today:
...last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city [Chicago], and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. So that’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months.
If we're going to do something meaningful about gun violence, it has to have an impact on the lives of those children as well.

President Obama then said something that was reminiscent of part of his speech to the Urban League last summer (almost 5 months before the Newtown shooting). Here's how he talked about it today:
When a child opens fire on another child, there’s a hole in that child’s heart that government can't fill -- only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole. In too many neighborhoods today -- whether here in Chicago or the farthest reaches of rural America -- it can feel like for a lot of young people the future only extends to the next street corner or the outskirts of town; that no matter how much you work or how hard you try, your destiny was determined the moment you were born. There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And 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.

And so that means that this is not just a gun issue. It’s also an issue of the kinds of communities that we’re building. And for that, we all share a responsibility, as citizens, to fix it.
As I listened to the President speak this afternoon, I thought he sounded rather somber - and actually a bit raw emotionally. I think that was because just before the speech, he took his own advice and spent some time with a group of young men who are involved with the B.A.M. program in Chicago schools. In other words, he was doing what he could today to "fill that hole."

I was reminded of what the President said he might do once his second term is over.

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