Obama's visit to address gun violence, other issues

February 11, 2013 5:21:08 AM PST
With the Hadiya Pendleton tragedy as a backdrop, President Barack Obama will visit Chicago Friday.

There is word Sunday night that he will discuss gun violence and other issues as he travels here and to two other cities in the days after his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

While the White House insists President Obama's visit to Chicago isn't just about gun control, many anti-violence activists still see the president's trip as a victory. Besides the visit, the issue will be part of Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

While Democrats are trying to push for new laws, many Republicans refuse to budge.

What to do about guns. It's an issue that has been front and center since the Newtown Connecticut tragedy and in Chicago Pendleton's murder has put a face on the national conversation about everyday street violence.

While shootings are rare in the northern suburbs, freshman congressman Brad Schneider is determined to make gun control a priority.

"Absolutely, this is something I talked about in the campaign," he said.

Schneider is one of 20 or so Democrats that plan to bring victims of gun violence as their guests to the State of the Union address.

Schneider is inviting Cleopatra Cowley, the mother of Hadiya Pendleton.

"This was a girl who lifted people up who was going to make a difference so she still has a chance to make a difference," Schneider said.

And Justin Murray's mother will be the guest of Evanston Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Nineteen-year-old Justin was killed in Evanston last November.

Carolyn Murray is encouraged that president Obama will not only address that issue in his speech but also plans to talk about it during his visit to Chicago.

"I'm very confident, President Obama started in the right direction," she said.

Despite the confidence and talk about gun control, the reality is nothing has gained any traction in Congress. The call for universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and limits on magazines remain unpopular with many Republicans.

"Anything that heads toward some sort of national registry won't make it and anything that really materially makes it more difficult to exercise 2nd Amendment rights isnot going to happen," Rep. Tom Cole (R) said this week.

When it comes down to it, ABC-7's political analyst Laura Washington says for Republicans gun control remains a political hot potato.

"They are looking at their next elections, particularly in the House and there's no way a lot of them are going to touch the issue," she said.

Congressman Schneider is more optimistic. He says he is part of a freshman congressional class that was elected to work across the aisle.

Democrats are determined to keep the issue front and center. On Tuesday, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin will chair a gun violence hearing.


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