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"My husband is fighting as hard as he can" - Michelle Obama challenges politicians on guns

The US first lady highlighted the case of a 15-year-old girl who was shot dead in January, one week after she sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Michelle Obama speaking about gun violence in Chicago on Wednesday
Michelle Obama speaking about gun violence in Chicago on Wednesday
Image: AP Photo/Paul Beaty

MICHELLE OBAMA HAS weighed in on the contentious debate on guns in America in a hard-hitting speech in favour of reforming gun control laws.

In an at-times emotional speech in Chicago about tackling the high numbers of young people being killed on the city’s streets, Obama said her husband was “fighting as hard as he can… to pass common sense reforms to protect our children from gun violence.”

Obama spoke at length about a 15-year-old girl who was shot dead in Chicago in January when she was mistaken for a gang member, one week after she had sang with classmates at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. Appearing to fight back tears, Michelle Obama said that teenager Hadiya Pendleton’s family had given her every opportunity to stop her from being affected by the violence that has blighted the city.

She told the audience:

Hadiya’s mother did everything she could for her daughter. She enrolled her in every activity you could imagine… anything to keep her off the streets and keep her busy.
And as I visited with the Pendleton family at Hadiya’s funeral, I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me. Because what I realised was Hadiya’s family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me – and I was her.
But I got to grow up. And go to Princeton. And Harvard Law School. And have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya – we know that story.

The first lady spoke about her background in Chicago and said the only reason she had grown up to be a lawyer, mother and first lady rather than being shot dead at the age of 15 was because she had support and opportunities from her community.

It is one of the few times that Michelle Obama has made a foray into domestic policy.

She spoke as two US senators – one Republican and one Democrat – presented a bipartisan proposal on toughening background checks for people looking to buy guns and said they had the support of a substantial number of elected politicians.

(Video: whitehouse/YouTube)

Read: Obama slams Republicans for gun reform ‘stunts’ >

Read: Connecticut passes ‘toughest gun law in the US’ after Sandy Hook massacre >

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