"He Has Become Our Light": Oprah Talks to the Wheelers
Francine: How could it not be? And if this is the tipping point, then let's all start working together for change. Because I don't think I can survive this without doing that.
David: There can't be a person in the world who thinks what happened is okay. That's probably one of the most significant areas of common ground that we can find with those on the other side of this conversation. Who can justify the numbers of people who have perished from gun violence, even since December 14?
Francine: Eight children and teens a day.
David: These innocent children. It doesn't matter if we're talking about situations like the one that affected us or about the street corners of Baltimore. Who thinks those numbers are okay?
Oprah: Do you think that what happened at Sandy Hook has made people focus on this issue in a way they had not been willing to before?
David: Certainly. People took this more personally because of the age of Ben and his classmates.
Francine: And the courage of those teachers and administrators. They are heroes. Absolute heroes.
Oprah: Because if something like this can happen in Newtown, it really could happen again anywhere.
Oprah: How do you find the strength to keep moving forward when you face setbacks, like the rejection last April of the expanded background-check bill that you lobbied for? Did you feel defeated after that?
David: No. Not for a second.
Oprah: You didn't feel like it was a slap in the face? Because it felt that way to a lot of people in the country.
Francine: We didn't feel that way because we knew we weren't going away. This is our life now. I've said to many of our leaders, "Look, I don't have any fear talking to you, because what else do I have?"
David: We have nothing else.
Francine: Except Ben's ability to give us courage to move forward. We can't change what happened, but we have to honor Ben's life, and Nate's life, and keep being truthful.
Oprah: Will you go back to Congress? It's not over for that bill.
Francine: Yes, but there are a lot of other bills, and a lot of relationships to build on, too. It takes a very long time to get people to start thinking about things in other ways.
David: Also, let's not forget that our government was designed in such a way that nothing can move quickly. And there's a well-financed, well-oiled lobbying machine that we have to contend with. All of that takes time.
Oprah: And you're not saying, "Let's eliminate all guns."
David: No. That's never going to happen. That's not realistic.
Francine: This is a public-safety issue that also includes our schools and our approach to mental health. You know, the mental-health piece of this is so complicated, and yet no one talks about it.
Oprah: We all just overlook it as though it isn't even there.
David: Yes. That's one of the reasons we are so happy to be involved with Sandy Hook Promise, because they have people working in all these areas—like mental health, school safety, gun responsibility—that are directly related to gun violence.
Next: What perspective the Wheelers have found