"Right now, my husband is fighting as hard as he can and engaging as many people as he can to pass common sense reforms to protect our children from gun violence," Mrs. Obama said to applause. "And these reforms deserve a vote in Congress."
Mrs. Obama was addressing Chicago business and community leaders at a luncheon hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, her husband's former chief of staff, who is trying to raise money to fund programs for at-risk youth.
Among those in the audience was Hall of Fame basketball player Isiah Thomas, raised in Chicago public housing. Thomas said the youth basketball leagues he participates in are critical to reducing violence.
"It's hard to kill somebody that you play with every day," Thomas said.
After her speech, Mrs. Obama visited Harper High School in the violent, gang-plagued community of Englewood. Harper was recently featured in a public radio documentary on "This American Life," which reported that more than two dozen current and former students were shot — eight of them fatally — in the last year alone.
"There isn't much distance between me and you," Mrs. Obama told the students. She encouraged them to take their education seriously.
Pickler reported from Washington.
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