Mother of Sandy Hook victim replaces Obama for weekly radio address on gun lawsSaturday 13 April 2013 22.16
A grieving Newtown mother gave US President Barack Obama's weekly radio address today.
Francine Wheeler sent a message to Congress and the country as the Senate prepares to vote next week on legislation aimed at curbing gun violence.
Ms Wheeler, whose six-year-old son Benjamin was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, is the first citizen to deliver a presidential radio address during Mr Obama's tenure.
She and her husband David Wheeler have spent the past week in Washington, with other family members of Newtown victims, to lobby politicians for stricter gun laws.
"We were grateful this week to be able to speak directly to senators about our children and our hopes that no other parent should have to experience our grief.
“I am equally grateful today to speak directly to the American people about the common sense solutions that are currently under debate," said Ms Wheeler in a statement released yesterday.
She addressed the nation the day before the four-month anniversary of her son's death in a tragic shooting that sparked a national debate on gun violence.
"Nobody has a more important or powerful perspective on this issue than the families who have had loved ones taken from them by the scourge of gun violence," a White House spokesman said.
"The President believes their voices and resolve have been critical to the continued progress in the Senate."
On Thursday, the Senate voted to begin debate on a gun violence prevention bill, drawing enough votes to overturn a filibuster from Republicans who intended to block a vote on the legislation.