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.