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Sandy Hook Survivor Makes Public Case for PA Gun Background Checks

"If we can keep a mother in Pennsylvania from having to go through what I have gone through, and we can do it in a way that makes sense, we ought to do it," Francine Lobis Wheeler wrote in a Wednesday opinion piece.

Francine Lobis Wheeler, right, with Pa State Rep. Steve Santarsiero.
Francine Lobis Wheeler, right, with Pa State Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

The mother of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim and Bucks County native is making a public case for legislation that would increase background checks for guns.

Francine Lobis Wheeler, a Council Rock graduate whose son, Ben, was killed during the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, supports Pennsylvania legislation to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of the severely mentally ill.

"It’s time for a vote on expanding background checks to all gun purchases in Pennsylvania," Wheeler wrote in a 606-word opinion piece published Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Wheeler expresses support for Newtown’s State Rep. Steve Santarsiero, who has offered an amendment to the bill that would require background checks for long guns in private sales. 

“If we agree that people deemed dangerous because of a prior conviction or institutionalization shouldn’t have guns, then we have to stop looking the other way,” Wheeler wrote.

Wheeler, a member of Council Rock’s class of 1985, is a co-founder of the nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise, which aims to curb gun violence in the wake of the shooting, which left six adults and 20 children dead.

“For me, protecting other families from having to suffer the pain my family has suffered is not a choice; it’s a necessity,” she wrote. "If we can keep a mother in Pennsylvania from having to go through what I have gone through, and we can do it in a way that makes sense, we ought to do it."

In July, Wheeler testified during a Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee public hearing on gun background check procedures.

“This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has an important opportunity to take action,” Wheeler said. “An amendment like the one Rep. Santarsiero is offering would not have saved my Ben. It would not stop every criminal bent on obtaining a gun. But it would save many lives,” she wrote.

Click here to read the full opinion piece.

Siobhra DeWar April 06, 2014 at 06:49 AM
The current background check is wrong and must be done away with. Expanding an evil law only makes it more evil. People are currently put on it for petty reasons. And with very few ways to get off. It took a pardon from the Governor to get me off that list. You do something when you are 18 and you are on the list until the day you die. Even if what you did is no longer a crime. If we are going to have such a list then the only way you could be put on that list is if a judge puts you on it. And that should be in a court of law where you at least have a chance to argue your side. And you should be able to be taken off that list by order of the court. Then and only then should we even allow talk of expanding that list.
Jane April 06, 2014 at 08:37 AM
A gun-free zone is a kill zone!!! Period!!!
Phillyboy April 06, 2014 at 05:06 PM
This is total insanity.These feel good liberals are destroying our country.What the F--- don't they get ? Criminals could care less about more backround checks. They will have guns with more checks or not. What these liberals TRULY want is guns to be banned all together and this typeof legislaytion is the first step in that direction.Stiffer gun control laws would not have stopped the carnage at Sandy Hook. YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE MENTAL ILLNESS . LIBERALS CANT ACCEPT THAT BUT ARE GOING TO HAVE TO.
Joe Melchiorre April 06, 2014 at 05:40 PM
The "HYPOCRITICAL PARTGY" is all about controlling people, not about safety, They don't get it, want to get it or understand. Hey barkeep, another round of KOOL ADE for the loons!!
Debbie Maritato May 02, 2014 at 09:53 AM
The real necessity here us to do away with gun free zones, news flash...the only people who obey laws are law abiding citizens, criminals break laws ! If Sandy Hook hadn't been gun free then maybe one staff member would have been legally carrying and that would have staved off a sad tragedy!

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