US President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House February 5, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama urged the Congress to take action to avoid sequester cuts with a short term budget fix. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKIBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:34AM
Two days after the mass murder at a school in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama flew there to console the families and call for stricter gun control.
How many more children must die in Chicago before the president does the same here?
The bloodshed that washed over Newtown is an everyday reality in Chicago, where more than 500 people were killed last year; and the president’s proposed gun control measures in the wake of Newtown, such as universal background checks and greater limits on assault weapons, are even more desperately needed here.
Urban violence is an America plague, destroying cities from within. Addressing the problem in a meaningful way demands national leadership, beginning with the president.
We understand why Obama might be reluctant to use Chicago as a stage to rally the nation against urban violence, despite the beseeching of community leaders. It wouldn’t do to embarrass his good friend, Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
But we can’t see how Chicago could be any more embarrassed than it already is. To walk to school in certain neighborhoods is to walk through a war zone.
“The president and I are acutely aware of this,” Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, told columnist Rick Telander. “We have to help Chicago. We have to help the country.”
When the president spoke in Newtown, he put not only gun control on the national agenda, but also other issues blamed for the violence in our culture, such as untreated mental illness and violent movies and video games. In making a similar plea that we, as a nation, address the scourge of urban violence, the president would stir a healthy conversation about such contributing factors as failing schools, current drug laws and absent fathers.
“We’re not going to wait until the next Newtown,” President Obama said Monday, appealing to the American public to put pressure on Congress to moved forward on gun control legislation.
And we cannot wait for the death of another Hadiya Pendleton.
Come to Chicago, Mr. President.