One of the videos features 11-year old Julia Stokes telling the president weapons should be “very hard for people to buy.”
“The only thing they do is harm or kill,” the girl says. “I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed.”
Obama mentioned this letter during his address Wednesday, when he urged lawmakers to pass bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips and agree to universal background checks intended to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
"These are our kids. This is what they’re thinking about," Obama said. "And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything that they’re capable of doing — not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change."
In addition to Stokes, the White House featured videos from Grant Fritz, Hinna Zeejah, and Teja Goode reading their letters to the president.
Obama's decision to prominently feature children drew flak from some conservative commentators. Radio host Rush Limbaugh described the announcement as “the children-as-human-shields show."
“Yeah! Kids cheer and the president starts out reading some letters from the kids. Gotta do what the kids want. Gotta answer all their letters to Santa Claus. Gotta do everything they want,” Limbaugh said. “It’s stunning. You look at the what’s happening in the country.”
On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president "is going to put the weight of his office behind this effort."
"You can fully expect that as part of this effort we will continue to try to engage the American people and have their voices heard and their concerns heard and their demands heard when it comes to taking common sense action to reduce gun violence in America," Carney added.