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

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

update President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms reclusive Taliban leader died in 2013, but Taliban itself claim Omar is still alive More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs