CHICAGO -- President Obama returned home Friday to a city shaken by the gun violence he has sworn to curb, delivering a call to “fill the hole” in the hearts of troubled young people and work together to lift communities out of poverty.
Although Obama is pushing a slate of gun control measures in Congress, he made few references to his legislative goals as he spoke to an audience at a Chicago South Side high school. Instead, he focused heavily on the role of communities and parenting in preventing violence.
“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 in respect,” Obama said. “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.
“When a child opens fire on another child, there is a hole in that child's heart that government can't fill. Only community and parents and teachers and clergy can fill that hole.”
Obama arrived in Chicago after weeks of not inserting himself into the scourge of violent crime in his hometown, a city now run by his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. In recent weeks, many here have called on him to come to Chicago to speak about gun-related violence, much as he did in Newtown, Conn., after the elementary school massacre there. The pressure mounted after the death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed shortly after returning home from his inaugural celebrations in Washington.