Washington: Holding back tears, the mother of a six year-old boy, who was murdered alongside 19 other children in Connecticut four months ago, made a passionate plea from the White House for Americans and their leaders to embrace her call for stricter gun control laws. In a significant departure from the past, US President Barack Obama had asked Francine Wheeler to deliver his weekly radio and web address to the nation.
She is the first person to deliver the address other than Obama or Vice President Joe Biden since the two took office in 2009. Wheeler was joined by her husband David to deliver the weekly address.
Their son Ben was shot dead in the Connecticut school violence in December. Since that terrible day in December, thousands more Americans have died, and thousands more families have suffered the pain of losing a loved one to violence, Ben's mother said.
Now that the Senate has agreed that gun safety reforms deserve a vote, they must finish the job and pass those reforms to protect our children and our communities, Wheeler said. "When I packed for Washington on Monday, it looked like the Senate might not act at all. Then, after the President spoke in Hartford, and a dozen of us met with Senators to share our stories, more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to move forward," Wheeler said in her address to the nation.
"But that's only the start. They haven't yet passed any bills that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And a lot of people are fighting to make sure they never do. Now is the time to act. Please join us. You can talk to your Senator, too," she said. Staring her address, Wheeler said, "As you've probably noticed, I'm not the President. I'm just a citizen. And as a citizen, I'm here at the White House today because I want to make a difference and I hope you will join me. My name is Francine Wheeler. My husband David is with me. We live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. David and I have two sons. Our older son Nate, soon to be 10 years old, is a fourth grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our younger son, Ben, age six, was murdered in his first-grade classroom on December 14th, exactly 4 months ago this weekend," Wheeler said.
She said though she and her husband lost their son, Nate had lost his best friend. "I've heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded. But not for us. To us, it feels as if it happened just yesterday. And in the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun. Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief," she said. "Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy," Wheeler said.
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