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*-- Obama to address gun control, prison reform in Chicago --*

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will argue for gun control and changes in the criminal justice system when he addresses police chiefs Tuesday in Chicago.

Obama is scheduled to visit the International Association of Chiefs of Police as part of an effort to build bipartisan support for overhauling the U.S. criminal justice system and reducing the number of incarcerations for non-violent offenders.

"He will continue to push for criminal justice reforms that will make the system smarter, more effective, and more fair, while addressing the need for commonsense gun safety reforms," a White House statement said of Obama's trip to Chicago.

The United States has among the world's largest prison populations. Democrats argue incarceration damages families and communities; Republicans note the high cost of imprisoning non-violent offenders, particularly in cases involving drug possession.

Obama is expected to promote national gun laws to override the ease with which local restrictions can be circumvented by simply driving to a nearby state with looser laws to purchased guns.

A recent report indicated 60 percent of illegal guns recovered by police between 2009 and 2013 in Obama's hometown of Chicago came from out of state, notably Indiana. Nearly 400 homicides have occurred in Chicago this year, an 18.5 percent increase from the same date in 2014.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a proposal last week to reduce certain mandatory sentences for non-violent criminals, legislation which must still clear the House and Senate. It is, however, a starting point for what could be a momentous achievement for the Obama administration and the current session of Congress. The government has been stung by critics arguing a recent series of mass shootings in the United States should offer momentum for changes in gun laws.

A Gallup/Washington Post survey released Monday revealed the majority of Americans, 63 percent, believe mass shootings are a result not of lax gun laws but of inadequate mental health procedures.


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