Francine Wheeler, the mother of a victim of last year’s Sandy Hook shootings, has replaced President Barack Obama to deliver the weekly US presidential radio address.
Francine Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son Ben was killed in Sandy Hook shooting last year, used the nationally-broadcast statement to call for tighter gun controls.
Asking a citizen to deliver the weekly address is a highly unusual move.
The move comes as Barack Obama attempts to ratchet up pressure on the US Congress, which is due to debate new gun laws.
In an often emotional statement, Francine Wheeler recalled waiting for her son to return home following the shootings, and said the “tidal wave of anguish” resulting from that day had yet to recede.
She said new gun laws were needed to prevent more deaths.
Francine Wheeler, the mother of a victim of last year’s Sandy Hook shootings, has replaced President Barack Obama to deliver the weekly US presidential radio address
“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,” she said.
Francine Wheeler’s son Ben was killed along with 19 other children and six staff when 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire at his elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The address was broadcast on radio and released as a video online.
This week senators are due to debate new laws that will extend background checks to gun sales made at gun shows and over the internet.
The measures are the result of a bipartisan deal struck between Republican and Democrat senators last week.
Senators later voted to debate the legislation, but no new laws have yet been passed.
A White House call for a ban on assault weapons and a limit to the capacity of ammunition magazines that can be sold has not gained traction among lawmakers.
In a statement President Barack Obama said Francine Wheeler’s message was one that “every American should hear”.
“This shouldn’t be about politics,” the president said.
“This is about doing the right thing for families that have been torn apart by gun violence, and for all our families going forward.”
The influence of America’s gun lobby in Washington remains strong, and means the measures being discussed are by no means certain to become law.
President Barack Obama made an emotional plea as he urged lawmakers to vote on gun control legislation that appears to be stalling in Congress.
Speaking in Connecticut where 26 people died in Sandy Hook massacre last year, President Barack Obama said citizens must demand action.
Opinion polls have shown a majority of Americans support a ban on assault weapons and other gun control measures.
But gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), have been lobbying politicians against the bill.
President Barack Obama made an emotional plea as he urged lawmakers to vote on gun control legislation that appears to be stalling in Congress
“The day Newtown happened was the toughest day of my presidency,” Barack Obama said in his speech at Hartford, not far from Newtown, scene of the mass shooting four months ago.
“But I’ve got to tell you, if we don’t respond to this, that’ll be a tough day for me too.”
The Associated Press news agency reports there were tears in Barack Obama’s eyes as he described Newtown parent Nicole Hockley, who has said every night she asks her 6-year-old son Dylan to come to her in her dreams so she can see him again.
“If there’s even one thing we can do to prevent a father from having to bury his child, isn’t that worth fighting for?” Barack Obama asked, amid repeated standing ovations from the crowd.
He called for a vote on his three gun legislation priorities – strengthening background checks on gun buyers, limiting the size of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, and a ban on assault weapons.
However, the US Senate recently ditched the proposed ban on assault weapons and on high-capacity magazines, saying there was not enough support for the measure.
On Monday, Barack Obama said curbing gun violence was more important than partisan politics.
“Connecticut, this is not about me,” he said.
“This is not about politics.
“This is about doing the right thing for all the families who are here that have been torn apart by gun violence.”
Eleven parents of young children who were killed in the Newtown school shooting returned to Washington DC with Barack Obama aboard his official plane, Air Force One.
They are due to lobby members of Congress who have not yet backed the gun control bill.
Barack Obama said: “Nothing’s going to be more important in making sure that the Congress moves forward this week than hearing from them.”
The president criticized Republicans who have threatened to use a procedural tactic known as a filibuster to delay a vote on the gun bill.
Thirteen senators have said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid they would take such action, after he brought the bill to the Senate floor for debate on Monday.
“Some back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that,” said Barack Obama.
“They’re not just saying they’ll vote <<no>> on ideas that almost all Americans support.
“They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter. And that’s not right.”
Barack Obama’s speech came a week after Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed sweeping gun-control measures into law.
Connecticut follows the states of Colorado and New York in passing tighter state gun laws.
President Barack Obama is set to make gun control – as well as taxes and spending – a key part of his 2013 State of the Union speech after the first lady invited the parents of the slain Chicago teenager who has become the poster child for gun violence in the president’s home city.
Barack Obama is also expected to press Congress for additional tax hikes, fewer spending cuts, outreach for military families and immigration reform, which is shaping up to be a key part of his second term agenda.
The agenda Barack Obama will outline will include more money for infrastructure, clean energy technologies and manufacturing jobs, as well as expanding access to early childhood education.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama would outline “his plan to create jobs and grow the middle class” as the nation struggles with persistently high unemployment.
President Barack Obama is set to make gun control, as well as taxes and spending, a key part of his 2013 State of the Union speech
President Barack Obama’s talking points:
Gun control: A mission since December’s Sandy Hook massacre, Barack Obama has pushed for intensified background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Immigration reform: Barack Obama’s proposed plan would put 11 million undocumented residents on the path to American citizenship.
Tax hikes: The president is looking to ramp up tax hikes on the wealthy in an effort to repair the economy while stabilizing the middle class.
Military families: Barack Obama is expected to call for increased outreach to those closest to those fighting overseas
Clean energy initiatives: The development of and investments in clean energy has long been a priority of the Obama administration as part of his ongoing effort to bolster the economy.