Kids at centre stage in gun debate

2013-01-17 13:55
President Barack Obama is flanked by young children as he signs a executive order designed to tackle gun control. (Mark Wilson, AFP)

President Barack Obama is flanked by young children as he signs a executive order designed to tackle gun control. (Mark Wilson, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now
Washington – "Dear President Obama," began a letter from 8-year-old Grant Fritz, with the shaky printing - missed words, spelling errors - of someone just learning how to put thoughts down on paper.

"I think there should be some changes in the law with guns," Fritz said in the 17 December letter he sent to the president days after the Newtown school shootings.

Invited to the White House on Wednesday, Fritz and three other children in their Sunday best sat on stage as Obama read out parts of their letters to illustrate why he wants to tighten gun laws.

The children's' presence at Obama's announcement aimed to keep kids at the heart of the often emotional battle over gun control, which reignited with the murder of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, last month.

The president's own young daughters were dragged into the fray on Tuesday when the National Rifle Association (NRA) put out an ad accusing Obama of hypocrisy by giving the girls armed Secret Service protection.

That broke a long-held taboo against using a president's children in political attacks and outraged the White House, which described the ad as "repugnant".

With the letter-writing children looking on, Obama announced wide-ranging plans for gun control, including bringing an assault weapon ban to Congress.

He challenged Americans to ask their lawmakers to support his plan despite objections from groups who believe the measures will infringe on gun ownership rights.

"Ask them what's more important: Doing whatever it takes to get a 'A' grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?" Obama said to applause from a crowd of interest groups, Democratic lawmakers and law enforcement officials who agree with his plan.

Flood of letters

Anger and pain over the 14 December Newtown shooting has been a common topic in the stacks of letters from Americans that flood into the White House. Obama says he reads 10 letters a day from the public.

Julia Stokes, 11, wrote that she "may not [be] that into politics but my opinion is that it should be very hard for people to buy guns”.

"I know that laws have to be passed by congress but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed," wrote Julia, who dotted her 'i' with a heart.

Hinna Zeejah, 8, whose patent-leather Mary Jane shoes didn't reach the floor as she sat on the White House stage, wrote, "I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children."

In the front row of the event sat Chris and Lynn McDonald, whose 7-year-old daughter, Grace, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

"I'm told she loved pink. She loved the beach. She dreamed of becoming a painter," Obama said. Her parents looked at each other and smiled as the president spoke of how one of Grace's paintings now hangs in his private study.

The horror of the Newtown school shooting made a significant difference in the debate over gun violence, said Annette Nance-Holt, who lost her only child, Blair, in a shooting on a city bus, when he was coming home from school in 2007.

"In Chicago, we've been waiting for a long time. I don't just represent Blair - that was my baby - but there are so many other babies in the city of Chicago that have been gunned down innocently," Nance-Holt told reporters, wearing a picture of her son on her lapel.

"Now we have a groundswell of movement. We have 20 babies, and people are looking at this totally different."

Using kids as props

Obama was criticised by conservative pundits and bloggers as using children as political "props”.

"I don't even know what to say about the White House publishing letters from children for political purposes. It's just so disgusting," tweeted Michelle Clouthier, a libertarian blogger.

In its ad, the NRA accused Obama of being "just another elitist hypocrite" for allowing armed Secret Service protection for his daughters but turning down the lobby group's proposal after the Newtown shooting to put armed guards in all schools.

That drew fire from White House spokesperson Jay Carney.

"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly," Carney said.
Read more on:    nra  |  barack obama  |  us  |  gun control  |  us school shootings
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.