Father of teen killed in Parkland shooting interrupts Biden gun control speech

Source: globalnews.ca : 2022-07-11 19:49:32 : Sarah Do Couto

The father of a teenager killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., interrupted President Joe Biden’s speech about reducing gun violence on Monday.

The speech was delivered by the president at the White House during a ceremony meant to celebrate the signing of a new law that includes some measures aimed at preventing school shootings. The White House invited lawmakers, gun violence victims and other supporters to the event.

While the Biden administration has heralded the law as “the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in the last 30 years,” gun control advocates like Manuel Oliver say it is not enough.

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Oliver’s 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was one of 17 people killed during a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018. Seventeen others were injured.

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During his speech, Biden told the crowd that the new law “proves, despite the nay-sayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence.”

As he was speaking, Oliver stood from his seat, pointed his finger at the president and yelled “We have to do more than that.”

Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, was escorted out after interrupting remarks by President Joe Biden during an event on the South Lawn of the White House to commemorate the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will help curb gun violence, on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Biden, responding to Oliver, paused his speech to tell the man, “Sit down and hear what I have to say.”

“I’ve been trying to tell you this for years,” Oliver said.

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As Oliver continued to yell at the president, Biden replied again.

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“Let him talk. Let him talk,” the president told security. “Because make no mistake about it, this legislation is real progress. More has to be done.”

The new law, often referred to as the bipartisan gun safety bill, is, according to CNN, “potentially the most significant new federal gun safety measure in decades.”

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The legislation pledged US$750 million to help states implement and run crisis intervention programs “aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others,” CNN reported. The law also closes the “boyfriend loophole,” which prevents individuals convicted of abuse against a partner they are dating from obtaining a firearm.

Additionally, the bipartisan gun safety bill increased funding for mental health programs and school security.

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According to NBC, a spokesperson for Oliver told the outlet that the father “never thought the event should be a celebration and that it would allow Republicans to claim they had taken action to address gun violence and avoid additional change.”

On Twitter, Oliver echoed this statement, writing before the event: “The word CELEBRATION has no space in a society that saw 19 kids massacred just a month ago,” referring to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in May.

This is not the first time Oliver has criticized the Biden administration’s response to mass shootings.

In February, on the fourth anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Oliver climbed a crane near the White House and erected a banner calling on Biden to pass gun control legislation.

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Manuel Oliver displays a banner calling on government officials to prioritize gun violence prevention from a construction crane near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 14, 2022.

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The banner showed a black-and-white photo of his son Joaquin and read, “45K people died from gun violence on your watch.”

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