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posted: 2/18/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: The search for compromise on gun control

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

So frequently, the talk these days about gun control brings our thoughts to Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old honor student gunned down in a park in Chicago shortly after returning with the King College Prep High School band from a performance at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Her senseless death, an apparent case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, has turned her into a national symbol of gun tragedy.

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Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield invited her mother to be his guest at last week's State of the Union address. Obama has invoked her name repeatedly in his call for a vote on gun-control legislation. Sen. Mark Kirk plans to name his bipartisan gun-control bill in her honor.

The issue of gun violence gathers a growing, perhaps unprecedented, steam in both Washington and in Springfield,

That it has no doubt relates in large measure to the number of high-profile tragedies that have confronted us. seemingly one after another. Sandy Hook School. Aurora, Colo. Oak Creek, Wis. DeKalb. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Intertwined with all of that in Illinois is a federal court ruling that has found the state's ban on carrying concealed weapons to be unconstitutional.

In essence then, from both sides of the issue, momentum seems to be growing.

Is it possible that out of that conflict, some common-sense compromise could result? Is it possible that both sides could reach beyond the polarizing hyperbolic rhetoric to find solutions that are reasonable to all sides?

As reported last week by Daily Herald Political Editor Kerry Lester, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been trying to enlist support from suburban legislators in his own quest for tougher gun-control legislation.

That could include legislation similar to bills sponsored in the past by Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale to toughen sentences for those who illegally use a firearm.

This seems to be an approach both sides of the debate can support if they work together toward common ground.

It seems to us that there are other reasonable places to consider -- for instance, closing the gun show loophole and putting more emphasis on background checks, among other ideas.

The history of gun violence in the state and in the country illustrates beyond a doubt that we have a problem that shatters lives and breaks hearts, a problem we need to address.

To address it, all sides need to commit to real solutions, not to sound bites.

In today's environment, there is an opening for compromise. It's incumbent on everyone to reach for it.

As state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, a longtime gun-control advocate, told Daily Herald State Government Writer Mike Riopell last week, "There are reasonable steps we can take to make sure that we strike the proper balance between making sure people are able to still exercise their rights and their freedoms while also making sure we move heaven and earth to protect and keep safe the people who are at risk and are vulnerable."

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