The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., have increased the calls for gun control around the nation and in Congress, but perhaps none have been as poignant as that from 10-year-old Natalie Barden, sister of victim Daniel Barden.
Natalie's letter, written to President Barack Obama and read by Anderson Cooper on air, voiced her clear and thoughtful belief that guns did not belong in the hands of most civilians:
My name is Natalie Barden and I wanted to tell the president that only police officers and the military should get guns. If people want to do it as a sport than they could go to a shooting range and the guns would not be able to leave there.
Natalie, a member of the school newspaper, originally had meant to hand the president the letter while he was in Newtown comforting the grieving families, but became too intimidated to give it to him. A friend of the Barden family, Lillian Bittman, spoke with Cooper, who was also in Newtown, and asked him to read it on air. He obliged.
In a recent interview, Jackie Barden, the victim's mother, described her son as an old soul who showed empathy beyond his years. His father recalled how he'd be halfway to the car (after shopping, say) before turning around and noticing that Daniel was still holding the door open for strangers.
Daniel was laid to rest on Wednesday.