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Obama Pushes Economic, Gun Measures

President Barack Obama speaks about strengthening the economy for the middle class and the nation's struggle with gun violence, at an appearance at Hyde Park Academy, in Chicago, Feb. 15, 2013.
President Barack Obama returned Friday to his home city of Chicago to talk about jobs and guns - two of his main second-term priorities. The president is finishing a three-day tour after his State of the Union speech.

More Americans were killed in Chicago [506] last year than in Afghanistan [301].

Obama visited a school on the city’s troubled South Side, and appealed for several initiatives to reduce firearm violence, including tighter gun laws. As he did in his State of the Union address, he paid tribute to a 15-year-old Chicago girl, Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered days after marching in his inaugural parade.

“And the fact that, unfortunately, what happened to Hadiya is not unique. It is not unique to Chicago. It is not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us,” he said.

Hours earlier, at the White House, Obama posthumously awarded the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, the Presidential Citizens Medal, to six adults who were killed, along with 20 children, at a school massacre in Connecticut in December.

Reducing gun violence is one of what the president called “ladders of opportunity” that could help more Americans reach the middle class.

Obama also called for expanded early childhood education, improving job training and raising the mandatory minimum wage.

In a community where many children are raised by single mothers, the president advocated programs to encourage marriage and responsible fatherhood.

“We got single moms out here. They are heroic, what they are doing. And we are so proud of them. But at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved,” he said.

Obama’s parents separated shortly after he was born, and his father returned to Kenya.

This was the third and final stop on the president’s tour to promote the second-term agenda he set out Tuesday in his State of the Union address. Republicans in Congress have expressed opposition to many of his proposals.

From Chicago, the president went to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending part of the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend playing golf with friends.