PHILADELPHIA — In a Chicago area where 23 people have been killed by gunfire so far this year, kids don’t want to go outside.
Residents of inner-city neighborhoods plagued by gun violence say they feel neglected and ignored even in a presidential election year marked by highly publicized shootings at a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple and outside the Empire State Building — a year in which Republicans have launched a full-throated defense of gun ownership while Democrats have largely kept quiet about an issue they used to put front and center.
“People are being gunned down. Nobody’s talking about it. But both parties want our votes,” said the Rev. Ira Acree, of Greater St. John Bible Church in Chicago.
Gunfire frequently pierces Acree’s neighborhood. Nearly two dozen people have died this year, and children in his congregation are afraid to walk outside.
“It’s a state of emergency here in Chicago,” Acree said. “We want all hands on deck. That includes the president.”
But within the national Democratic Party, the voices calling for gun control are silent again this year.
President Barack Obama did touch briefly on the gun issue a few days after the Aurora, Colo., shooting. In a speech to the National Urban League, Obama declared that assault-style weapons “belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets ... ” and “we should leave no stone unturned” to keep young people safe.
But his spokesman later said that while Obama wants Congress to reinstitute a federal ban on military-style assault weapons that lapsed in 2004, the president is not pushing for it.