Michelle Obama Shines New Light On Gun Debate - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Michelle Obama Shines New Light On Gun Debate

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Michelle Obama is speaking out about the toll that gun violence is taking on young people, in a shift that shows the first lady's willingness to tackle new and polarizing issues as she shapes her second term.

A meeting with high school students from a poor, gang-infested neighborhood in Chicago, her hometown, led Mrs. Obama to put a new spin on the stalled legislative debate over whether to ban firearms or impose new background checks on people who want to buy guns.

A mother to a teen and a tween, Mrs. Obama argues that the debate also is about the country's obligation to help kids like these grow up and become adults. Several of the school's current and former students were killed by gunfire within the past year.

The first lady faces the issue of immigration Tuesday when she gives the keynote speech at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy group. Immigration is one of President Barack Obama's top second-term priorities.

Aides say the first lady isn't making gun violence a new and distinct issue, but is folding it into her work encouraging youth to focus on getting an education.

By reaching beyond the pair of relatively safe issues she has pushed - reducing childhood obesity and rallying public support for military families - the Harvard-trained lawyer who some say has played it safe is showing a willingness to step outside of her comfort zone.

She'll need to tread carefully, though. Americans tend to prefer that their first ladies leave the heavier policy lifting to the president.

Rosalynn Carter was criticized for attending Cabinet meetings and Hillary Rodham Clinton was pilloried for running a health care task force in secret. Mrs. Obama is viewed favorably by about two-thirds of the public, higher than her husband, who had a favorability rating of about 53 percent, according to recent polls.

Mrs. Obama fell out of public favor during the 2008 presidential campaign over comments deemed unpatriotic. But once in the White House, she declared herself "mom in chief" to her two kids, planted a vegetable garden, pushed the childhood obesity and military family issues, and resurrected her public standing.

At three fundraisers one day in May - one in Boston and two in New York, including on Park Avenue - Mrs. Obama talked about a meeting she had with some of the "best and brightest" students at Chicago's Harper High School, including the valedictorian, a star athlete and ROTC participants.

But instead of "reveling in the joys of their youth," like completing college applications, planning for the prom or getting a driver's license, she told the audiences of Democratic donors that "these young people were consumed with staying alive."

"There are so many kids in this country just like them, kids with so much promise, but so few opportunities, good kids who are doing everything they can to break the cycle and beat the odds," Mrs. Obama said. "We need to be better for them. We need to be better for all of our children in this country because they are counting on us to give them the chances they need for the futures they all deserve."

It is unclear whether Mrs. Obama will continue to speak about gun violence or immigration after the address to La Raza. The speech is one of her few remaining public events before she takes her traditional month off in August. But her words and actions on the gun issue have drawn notice.

She recently said that first ladies, more than presidents, "get to work on what we're passionate about."

"You have an opportunity to speak to your passions and to really design and be very strategic about the issues you care most about," Mrs. Obama said at a recent forum in Tanzania with African first ladies. "And I just found it just a very freeing and liberating opportunity."

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Trump says people from Mexico 'invade' US

    Trump says people from Mexico 'invade' US

    Monday, June 25 2018 12:14 AM EDT2018-06-25 04:14:16 GMT
    Monday, June 25 2018 11:48 AM EDT2018-06-25 15:48:37 GMT
    (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson). A protester yells toward a Trump supporter after arriving to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, on Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Homestead, Fla.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson). A protester yells toward a Trump supporter after arriving to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, on Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Homestead, Fla.

    President Donald Trump says people entering the U.S. from Mexico should be immediately sent back without appearing before a judge, a stance the ACLU has criticized as illegal.

    President Donald Trump says people entering the U.S. from Mexico should be immediately sent back without appearing before a judge, a stance the ACLU has criticized as illegal.

  • US prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Cohen probe

    US prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Cohen probe

    Sunday, June 24 2018 9:15 PM EDT2018-06-25 01:15:00 GMT
    Monday, June 25 2018 11:25 AM EDT2018-06-25 15:25:50 GMT
    Monday's interview with prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan is in preparation for a possible grand jury appearance as they work to assemble a case against Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the person said. (Source: CNN)Monday's interview with prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan is in preparation for a possible grand jury appearance as they work to assemble a case against Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the person said. (Source: CNN)

    Porn actress Stormy Daniels will meet with federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating President Donald Trump's former personal attorney.

    Porn actress Stormy Daniels will meet with federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating President Donald Trump's former personal attorney.

  • Guardian of OR children allegedly beat them, forced them to wear urine-soaked clothes

    Guardian of OR children allegedly beat them, forced them to wear urine-soaked clothes

    Monday, June 25 2018 4:41 AM EDT2018-06-25 08:41:48 GMT
    Monday, June 25 2018 10:39 AM EDT2018-06-25 14:39:05 GMT

    The three children’s guardian pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of criminal mistreatment and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

    The three children’s guardian pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of criminal mistreatment and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

Powered by Frankly