During last night's State of the Union address, President Donald Trump said the Second Amendment was under siege across the nation.
"So long as I am president, I will protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," he said to a chorus of clapping and cheering Republicans in the House Chamber.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) shooting almost two years ago, shouted back at Trump: "What about my daughter?"
Capitol police quickly removed him from the chamber.
Guttenberg later tweeted an apology, acknowledging he disrupted the speech and explaining his emotions got the best of him:
(2,2) That said, I should not have yelled out. I am thankful for the overwhelming support that I am receiving. However, I do owe my family and friends an apology. I have tried to conduct myself with dignity throughout this process and I will do better as I pursue gun safety.— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) February 5, 2020
But Guttenberg has every right to be irate. His daughter was killed by a person whose behavior set off multiple alarm bells before the shooting. Even the FBI admitted it dropped the ball on tips that could have prevented the carnage that claimed 17 lives and traumatized scores of others. Online conspiracy theorists reduced MSD students and parents to crisis actors. Parkland parents and survivors have been met with empathy and support, but also with vitriol and venom.
Talking about guns is uncomfortable. Even talking about public safety is controversial. Both sides scream over each other at all times, and we're no closer to a viable solution for America's gun problem.
Every attempt has been made to silence the voices of survivors of gun violence everywhere. They're accused of exploiting and politicizing their loved ones' deaths by advocating for gun control legislation. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz last year tried to eject Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, from a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence prevention. But what if fighting for change after loved ones' tragic deaths feels like the best way to honor them and help others?
Guttenberg asks a valid question: What about his daughter? What about Sybrina Fulton's son or the family of baby Andrew or any of the hundreds of people who've been killed or hurt by guns since the beginning of the new year?
Fred Guttenberg is allowed to be angry. As is every survivor of gun violence and the families left shattered in the aftermath. Their voices — and their shouts — need to be heard.
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