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As Gun Debate Continues, Teen's Chicago Death Reaches D.C.

Shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who last week took part in Inaugural events, is mentioned in White House, in U.S. Capitol

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"After The Happiest Day of Her Life, She’s Gone"

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Hadiya Pendleton

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Mayor: "Punk" Killed Hadiya

Chicago Rahm Emanuel grew emotional as he talked about the Tuesday shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton.
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President Barack Obama has mentioned The Windy City several times when talking about gun control, one of the big priorities of his second term.

On Wednesday, the name of a 15-year-old girl shot and killed a day earlier about a mile from the president's south side Chicago home was uttered inside his temporary D.C. home.

"It's a terrible tragedy any time a young person is struck down with so much of their life ahead of them," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters in the Briefing Room. "We see it far too often. The President and the First Lady's thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hadiya Pendleton. All of our thoughts and prayers are with her family."

Pendleton's name was also mentioned inside the U.S. Capitol, where the debate over gun control was getting its first congressional hearing since Obama proposed sweeping reforms.

"It was the highlight of her young 15-year-old life," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said of the girl's visit to Washington, D.C. for the president's second inauguration. "Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she’s gone."

Pendleton, a member of the King College Prep High School band, died Tuesday afternoon after taking a bullet to the back while seeking cover from a rain storm.

Durbin highlighted her death after a testy confrontation with National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, who told the panel his organization no longer supports one of the signature elements of gun control legislation -- universal background checks -- arguing it would have little effect on stopping crime.

"My problem with background checks is you're never going to get criminals to go through universal background checks," LaPierre testified. "We're going to make all those law-abiding people go through the system, and then we aren't going to prosecute any of the bad guys, if they do catch one, and none of it makes any sense in the real world."

Durbin pounced on the argument.

"Mr. LaPierre, that's the point. The criminals won't go to purchase the guns because there'll be a background check. We'll stop them from the original purchase. You missed that point completely. And I think it's basic," said Durbin, drawing a bit of applause.

Durbin said a huge number of the guns used in Chicago crimes aren't sold in the city. They come from Mississippi, where gun laws are more relaxed, he said.

At the federal level and in Chicago, gun control advocates are pushing for a number of changes. Among them, and aside from universal background checks, proposals include a re-instatement of the assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy is also a fierce advocate for a title-like registry to record the sale, loss and theft or transfer of any firearms.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said those proposals are a part of an overall crime-fighting strategy that includes investments in after-school programs and a focus on gangs.

"It's not just a policing issue. Those kids just took a final. They have a right to be able to be at a playground near their school as they're going to go home," said Emanuel.

Back in Washington, and as debate continued in front of that Senate Judiciary Committee,
the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords broke news of yet another incident.

"While we were having this hearing, and we certainly don't know the details, in Phoenix, Arizona, there is another, what seems to be, possibly, a shooting with multiple victims," said former astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly.

By Wednesday evening, one person had been confirmed dead.

Giffords, wounded in a 2011 shooting spree in Tucson, urged lawmakers to be "bold" and "courageous" in their actions.

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