A Monday event meant to celebrate new gun laws was quickly overshadowed by the removal of the father of a Parkland mass shooting victim. When Manuel Oliver rose and questioned President Joe Biden’s message, he was told to “sit down!”
Biden further admonished the parent by saying “you’ll hear what I have to say. Let me finish my comments.”
Oliver was then rushed out of the ceremony on the White House lawn.
His son Joaquin was 17 years old and one of 17 students who died in 2018’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Before the event, Oliver posted his criticism on social media.
He tweeted that “CELEBRATION” is not relevant in a nation that saw 19 kids gunned down just over a month ago.
Then, just after the president said that it is possible to “make meaningful progress” on the shootings that plague the nation, Oliver rose. Speaking directly to Biden, he proclaimed, “You have to do more than this,” and urged the opening of a White House office to deal with mass shootings.
Oliver added, “We have to do more than that! I’ve been telling you this for years.”
After Biden chided the father and told him to sit down, he had a change of heart and said “let him talk, let him talk.” But the staff ignored that request and escorted Oliver away from the ceremony.
Afterwards, Oliver spoke to the Miami Herald and repeated his charge that the celebration was unwarranted. He said there was no need to have Monday’s event and “we lie to ourselves thinking we have a solution…when we actually don’t.”
Later Monday afternoon, Igor Volsky, director of gun control advocacy group Guns Down America, congratulated Oilver in a tweet that also called for appointing a “gun czar.”
This is hardly a first for Oliver, who in February climbed a 150-foot crane near the White House on the fourth anniversary of the Parkland mass shooting. He hung a banner with his son’s picture that said “45K people died from gun violence” while Biden had been president.
The president meant to celebrate the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and in his speech called for a full ban of assault weapons. Biden told the gathering that the nation is overflowing with “weapons of war,” and it’s his intention to change that.