“It’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months,” Obama said to a crowd that included the parents of slain youth Hadiya Pendleton, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Pat Quinn.
“That’s why the overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for common sense proposals that make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.”
However, he said, “no set of laws can prevent any senseless act of violence, if a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child’s heart that government can’t fill, only community and family can fill.”
Obama painted a picture of the realities for many young people in Chicago’s impoverished South and West sides, sympathizing that it feels “like no matter how hard you try, your destiny was determined from the moment you were born.”
He acknowledged the need for more ladders of opportunity, but added that “maybe we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.”
Darrius Lightfoot, 21, co-founder of Fearless Leading by the Youth, watched a live stream of the speech and said it “didn’t get to the root cause of the problem.”
“I would have liked to hear him say something about the institutions that need to step up and solve these problems” of violence, said Lightfoot, rather than “put it on everybody’s self, like pull yourself up.”
One of Fearless Leading by the Youth’s campaigns is pushing for a trauma center on the South Side. Getting gunshot victims to a trauma center sooner would reduce the number of people dying from violence, Lightfoot says.
“If we stop this youth from dying, we stop retaliation.”
But that is only the start, he added.
“We still need more resources, like mentorship programs, to stop the reasons why folks commit violence.”