Before the announcement, the White House shared letters from Grant, Taejah and 11-year-old Julia Stokes with The Associated Press. None of the writers, including Grant, who is closest in age to the 6- and 7-year-olds killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said they opposed efforts to tighten access to guns. The White House did not immediately respond when asked whether it had received letters from children who disagreed with Obama on the need for stricter gun control.
The National Rifle Association, the powerful lobbying group for gun owners, has pledged to fight attempts by Congress to enact new restrictions, viewing such efforts as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Some sportsmen and people who own guns for protection also oppose many gun control laws.
Julia, who lives in the District of Columbia and dotted the “I” in her name with a heart, wrote that she has four brothers and sisters and “I know I would not be able to bear the thought of losing any of them.” She closed her letter by acknowledging that Obama can't make all the changes people want by on his own.
“I know that laws have to be passed by Congress but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed. Not just for me, but for the whole United States,” Julia wrote, signing the letter with “my love and regrets.”
From the stage, Obama responded: “Julia, I will try very hard.”
The White House also did not give a reason for withholding the hometowns for Grant, Taejah and a fourth student also on stage, 8-year-old Hinna Zeejah.