WASHINGTON (AP) — Three days after six teachers and 20 students were killed by a rampaging gunman at their elementary school in Newtown, Conn., an 8-year-old from Maryland pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote to 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 wrote in the Dec. 17 letter. "Please don't let people own machine guns or other powerful guns like that."
In the days after the shooting, children around the country apparently had the same idea as Grant. They put their feelings about the massacre on paper and sent those letters to a receptive White House.
"I am writing to ask you to STOP gun violence," wrote Tajeah, 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 makes his long-awaited announcement of proposals to reduce gun violence, he will be joined by Grant, Tajeah and other children from across the U.S. who expressed their concerns about gun violence and school safety to the one person they think can make a difference: the president.
The White House shared three such letters with The Associated Press, from youngsters who seemed in agreement that Obama should do what's necessary to make it harder for people to get guns. None of the writers, including Grant, who is closest in age to the 6- and 7-year-olds who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said they were against efforts to tighten access to guns.
Obama has spoken in favor of banning assault-style weapons, limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring background checks for every gun buyer.
On the other side of the issue, the National Rifle Association, the powerful lobbying group for gun owners, views any effort to limit access to guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms and has pledged to fight attempts by Congress to enact new restrictions. Some sportsmen and people who own guns for protection also oppose many gun control laws.
Second Amendment. Right to bear arms. Lobbying group. None of that was mentioned in the letters, scribbled in the rough penmanship of children.
Eleven-year-old 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 said it should be "very hard" for people to buy guns and closed by acknowledging that Obama can't make changes by himself.
"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." She will also be at the White House on Wednesday.
The White House did not release last names for any of the letter writers, or hometowns for Grant and Tajeah.