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  • Carolyn Kaster / AP
  • President Obama, it’s time to address the despair and destitution at the heart of urban violence.

When President Obama speaks in Chicago Friday, he’ll undoubtedly cite the bloodshed in our city as a tragic example of why the nation needs tougher and smarter gun laws.

After decades of innocent victims—including Ben Wilson, Dantrell Davis, and Hadiya Pendleton, to name but three—the president’s attention is more than warranted.

Yet little will change without a close look at the gang and drug conflicts responsible for the violence, including an understanding of the victimizers who don’t inspire much sympathy: people like veteran gang members and street dealers.