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GOP senator hopes to honor slain teen with gun bill

April 10, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli | This post has been updated, as indicated below.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Kirk, one of the lead Republican sponsors of a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks of gun purchases, says he hopes to name the legislation in honor of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teen who was shot on a Chicago street just days after marching in President Obama’s inauguration parade.

Kirk, an Illinois lawmaker who has worked closely with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia to develop the legislation, said it has the promise of helping to reduce the ability of gangs like the one involved in Pendleton’s death from gaining access to firearms.

“I met with the Pendleton family to ask their permission,” Kirk told reporters Wednesday. “She is our silver-lining girl -- to finally get the last silver lining from this tragic loss of a 15-year old girl.”

[Updated, 3:11 p.m. April 10: Kirk’s office clarified that the legislation Kirk hoped to name for Pendleton would be a separate provision.

"Sen. Kirk worked to ensure that a portion of the gun trafficking legislation that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee was named after Hadiya Pendleton.  He hopes that bill, which bears Ms. Pendleton's namesake, becomes part of a larger final bill that will include the background checks compromise."

All 23 of President Obama’s gun policy proposals

Kirk and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania briefed Republican lawmakers on the proposal at a closed-door lunch Wednesday. Kirk said he planned to share with his colleagues how gangs are able to rearm by purchasing weapons at gun shows, which under current law do not require background checks.

“Let’s make sure this legislation hurts the major drug gangs of America,” Kirk said.

Kirk said he shared that message with Obama when the two spoke by phone on Tuesday. First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Chicago on Wednesday for an event on gun violence in which she also spoke of Pendleton.

After the meeting with GOP lawmakers, Kirk said he was optimistic that gun legislation could pass in the Senate.

“Right now we’re on a roll with a 90-10 issue,” he said.

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