WASHINGTON (AP) — Three days after six teachers and 20 students were killed by a rampaging gunman at a Connecticut elementary school, an 8-year-old Maryland boy pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote President Barack Obama, asking for “some changes in the laws with guns.”
“It's a free country but I recommend there needs (to) be a limit with guns,” Grant Fritz said in the Dec. 17 letter. “Please don't let people own machine guns or other powerful guns like that.”
In the days after the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn., children around the country apparently had the same idea as Grant. They put their feelings about the massacre on paper and began sending letters to a receptive White House.
“I am writing to ask you to STOP gun violence,” wrote Taejah Goode, a 10-year-old from Georgia. “I am very sad about the children who lost their lives. So, I thought I would write to you to STOP gun violence.”
On Wednesday, when Obama announced a package of proposals to reduce gun violence, he was joined on stage by Grant, Taejah and two other children. Each had expressed their concerns about gun violence and school safety to the one person they think can make a difference — the president.
Obama read from their letters for the group of Cabinet secretaries, administration officials and others in a White House auditorium for the long-awaited announcement.
“These are some pretty smart letters from some pretty smart young people,” Obama said. “So what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they're capable of doing. Not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”
Obama called on Congress to require background checks for every gun buyer, to ban assault-style weapons and to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines.