April 13th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Sandy Hook mom delivers presidential radio address

(CNN) - For the first time in his White House tenure, President Barack Obama handed the weekly address to someone outside his administration.

He stepped aside so a mother who lost her son in the Newtown school massacre could press Congress to act on new measure tightening access to guns.

“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,” said Francine Wheeler, whose son Ben, 6, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

“I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded,” Wheeler continued, referring to the day of the Newtown shooting. “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. Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Friday that Obama asked Wheeler to tape the address, which is heard on radio and seen on the Internet.

In an email from the White House on Saturday, Obama wrote he takes the address "very seriously because it offers a chance to bring focus to an issue that needs to be part of the national dialogue."

Wheeler and other families who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook have been in Washington this week to lobby Congress for passage of gun legislation that would expand background checks and take other steps designed to curb gun violence.

“We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass commonsense gun responsibility reforms that will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us,” Wheeler said, noting that earlier this week it appeared gun control measures would stall in the Senate.

“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,” she said, referring to Thursday’s Senate action that paved the way for debate on new gun laws.

“But that’s only the start,” she cautioned. “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.”

Carney told reporters the president believed the Newtown families in Washington have been “critical to the continued progress we've seen in the Senate."

A senior Obama administration official told CNN Wheeler wrote the remarks with her husband, and taped the address in the library at the White House on Friday morning. The address features only Wheeler and her husband David on camera.

This is the first time someone other than the president or vice president in this administration has delivered the weekly presidential address, Carney said Friday.

CNN found one instance in the George W. Bush administration when first lady Laura Bush delivered the address on the Taliban oppression of women and children in Afghanistan.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt originated the practice of delivering radio addresses on current issues, which was renewed by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. All succeeding presidents have followed the tradition.

Filed under: Gun control • President Obama
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. drumbeg

    I'm sorry for what has happened to your family. Your loss, however, doesn't entitle you to some of my constitutional freedoms.

    April 14, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  2. DaveNYUSA

    Iss there ANYONE Obama will not exploit?

    April 14, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. SteveK

    These people are being exploited buy their emotions by the POTUS and don't even realize it. It's sick. Not ONE law he has proposed would have prevented this and he knows it. BTW, some of the parents from Sandy Hook agree and you notice they get no press time. It's sickening.

    April 14, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  4. reality check

    Never let a good tragedy go, instead use it for your political weapon. Funny how media is ignoring the trial of the guy that murdered born babies with a scissor because he was an "abortion doctor" since pro-choice is the Obama supported ideal. Yet, these babies weren't aborted but murdered AFTER birth ON an table. Shame on CNN for barely touching this but instead Sandy Hook and Arias!

    April 14, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. Nicholas Smith

    A few notes on Gun Background Checks.

    A Russian Officer once said that, "...The only reason we didn't attack you was that you can't get two Americans to agree on anything, and you're all heavily armed."

    Gun Background Checks would probably be acceptable to the anti-gun control folks if it could be guaranteed that the weapon serial numbers are not included in the Gun Background Checks.

    What is a "Gun Background Check?" A Gun Background Check is a request for buyer personal history information from the gun dealer to the law enforcement agency of the Federal Government Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The purchaser and dealer complete a Federal Form 4473, and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). If the person wanting to buy the gun is cleared by the ATF then the gun dealer is by law allowed to sell them the gun.

    The problem for anti-gun control folks is that the Gun Background Check is tied to the serial number of the gun, and the anti-gun control folks believe that the government cannot have that information that they consider a violation of their 2nd Amendment Rights.

    This is worth repeating.

    Make no mistake, Gun Background Checks are de facto Gun Registration. The dealer keeps the Gun Background Check Forms, but the gun serial numbers are forever tied to the buyer through these Forms, and in case of invasion, the first thing the enemy would do is to get those Forms then to get the weapons. Just like in the movie "Red Dawn." And, a disarmed public is an enslaved public.

    Now, if you doubt this Gun Background Check information, call your local gun dealer and ask about it.

    Gun Registration is unconstitutional, therefore de facto Gun Registration Gun Background Checks are unconstitutional. QED.

    April 14, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  6. Richard Right

    He is a smart politician, happily uses people to achieve his goals. But don't think he really wants to succeed. He does better by working hard on firearms restrictions, failing because of Republican nay votes ,and then having another mass shooting as occurred in Conn. He can then blame it all on Republicans.

    April 14, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. Obummer

    The FDA has more blood on its hands than do these crazy shooters! They push these drugs onto kids like its candy knowing it doesn't heal but it only masks the problem. Schools benifited from having an ADD student so they are all to quick to diagnose it. These poor kids are being drugged for money grants. Then the become suicidal murderous zombies who kill for no rhyme or reason. All because the school gets govt money. Gun control will do nothing to protect us. It's used as an excuse to fundamentally change America. When the government fears it's people we are free, when the people fear their government there is tyranny. Obama is disgustingly using this to control us. It won't help one person.

    April 14, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
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