- Rep. Matt Gaetz drew a vocal backlash from two fathers of Parkland shooting victims during a heated congressional hearing on gun legislation Wednesday.
- Gaetz said a border wall was the more effective safety solution to preventing violence in the US.
- Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg, the fathers of Joaquin Oliver and Jamie Guttenberg, shouted at Gaetz multiple times during his remarks.
- Gaetz asked the House Judiciary Committee chairman if members of the audience could be removed if they continued interrupting.
- Oliver later said he had been telling Gaetz to “remember our son. Remember us.”
A GOP lawmaker attempted to turn a congressional hearing about gun violence into a discussion on illegal immigration on Thursday – then tried to kick out the fathers of two Parkland shooting victims after they protested his remarks.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, an outspoken ally of President Donald Trump, said during the hearing that gun-control legislation wouldn’t stop violence, but a wall at the southern border would.
The hearing was on House Resolution 8, a piece of gun legislation that would strengthen background checks.
“As we hear the stories and circumstances for those here, I hope we don’t forget the pain and anguish and sense of loss felt by those all over the country who have been the victims of violence at the hands of illegal aliens,” Gaetz said. “HR 8 would not have stopped the circumstances I raised, but a wall, a barrier on the southern border may have, and that’s what we’re fighting for.”
.@Repmattgaetz is interrupted by Manuel Oliver, father of Majory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Joaquin "Guac" Oliver. Parliamentary inquiries follow on reprimanding members for being untruthful and audience member disruptions. pic.twitter.com/gIfZJgY99Y
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 6, 2019
His remarks prompted jeers throughout the room, which was largely packed with student activists from the “March For Our Lives” movement.
Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg, two fathers whose children died in last February’s mass shooting, stood up and shouted at Gaetz.
Joaquin Oliver, 17, and Jamie Guttenberg, 14, were among the 17 students and staff members who were gunned down at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, prompting another national debate over gun violence policies.
House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, quieted the two fathers, but they protested again when Gaetz continued with his remarks.
“I hope that we’ll deal with all of the drivers of violence. The greatest driver of violence in the circumstances I indicated was not the firearm, it’s the fact that we have an immigration system that allows people to come here violently,” Gaetz said, before Oliver and Guttenberg cut him off.
Gaetz went on to ask Nadler if there was a procedure to remove audience members who repeatedly interrupt the hearing, and Nadler responded that there was.
But Gaetz managed to finish his remarks, arguing that “if we really cared about safer streets we would build the wall and secure the border.”
Later, Oliver spoke to MSNBC about the altercation, saying that he had interrupted Gaetz to urge him, “Remember our son. Remember us.”
He accused Gaetz of being a “salesperson from the Republican Party” with no qualifications to discuss gun violence.
“This person came in here trying to solve the problem with the argument that we need a wall. We’re discussing about gun violence in this room and how we’re going to end this epidemic,” he said. “And it was very offensive that the only side of this story that seems to bother them is this wall that seems to be the solution for all our problems.”
- Read more:
- ‘I know he’s watching television because he’s calling me 5 minutes after’: Republicans go on TV – then they get a call from Trump
- A simple technology could secure the US-Mexico border for a fraction of the cost of a wall – but no one’s talking about it
- Rapper 21 Savage was arrested by ICE for allegedly overstaying a visa, throwing his origin story into question
- Border Patrol video shows more than 110 migrants scaling the 18-foot US-Mexico border fence with a ladder
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.