News / USA

Mother Of Slain Newtown Boy Gives White House Weekly Address

Francine Wheeler, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Benjamin Wheeler, cries as she listens to Vice President Joe Biden speak during a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 21, 2013.Francine Wheeler, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Benjamin Wheeler, cries as she listens to Vice President Joe Biden speak during a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 21, 2013.
x
Francine Wheeler, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Benjamin Wheeler, cries as she listens to Vice President Joe Biden speak during a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 21, 2013.
Francine Wheeler, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Benjamin Wheeler, cries as she listens to Vice President Joe Biden speak during a gun violence conference in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 21, 2013.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama has called on the mother of one of the children massacred inside a Connecticut school in December to deliver his Saturday radio and Internet address.  The White House is using an emotional appeal to seek public support for gun control legislation.

With her husband David at her side, Francine Wheeler talked about her six-year-old son, Ben, as only a mother can. “Ben’s love of fun and his excitement at the wonders of life were unmatched.  His boundless energy kept him running across the soccer field long after the game was over.  And he could not wait to get to school every morning," she said.

On the morning of December 14, a man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and fatally shot Ben, 19 of his classmates, and six adults.

Some public opinion polls have indicated that many Americans’ memories of that day are fading, and momentum for gun control legislation has stalled.  But Wheeler says it still seems like yesterday to her, and she is asking for action.

“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.  Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy," she said.

Senators voted Thursday to start debate on legislation which includes expanded background checks for gun buyers and new penalties for gun trafficking.  An attempted filibuster by Republican Senators to block the bill was defeated.

Francine Wheeler says political action by many of the Newtown families, in conjunction with President Obama and other Democrats, is helping to advance the cause of gun control.

“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.  But that is only the start.  They have not 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," she said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday the parents of the slain children have been effective in helping Obama campaign for his gun legislation. “As you know, the president has been in regular contact this week with the families of victims of the 12/14 shootings, and he believes their voices and resolve have been critical to the continued progress we have seen in the Senate," he said.

Erich Pratt, with the group Gun Owners of America, says the president, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other leaders of the gun control effort are exploiting the Newtown families’ tragedy.

“I think it is a shameless thing that Bloomberg and others have done in trying to use what is a very sad situation, but use the survivors and the victims to advance their political agenda," he said.

Pratt says the bill before the Senate would not have prevented the mass murder in Newtown. “We think it is very tragic when we hear them say, ‘We want to do something that will make a difference,’ and yet, the proponents of this bill admit that nothing in this bill would have done anything to keep that dirtbag in Connecticut from getting the gun that he acquired," he said.

After Obama spoke in Connecticut recently, several of the Newtown parents accompanied him on the Air Force One flight to Washington.

A number of the parents have been working with Democratic lobbyists and communications specialists to campaign for gun legislation.  Media reports say the family members have delivered a strong message to Senators, and are likely to continue to do so.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid