The father of a student killed in the Parkland shooting is speaking out after being removed from the State of the Union address last night for shouting at President Donald Trump over “lies about the Second Amendment.”
Fred Guttenberg’s 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed in February 2018 during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since her death, Mr Guttenberg has been an outspoken advocate for gun safety.
Tuesday night, Mr Guttenberg - who was invited by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - interrupted the State of the Union as Mr Trump was assuring his supporters that he would protect gun rights.
“So long as I am president, I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Mr Trump said.
As the applause at his line died down, Mr Guttenberg could be heard shouting from the top row of seats about “victims of gun violence like my daughter.”
Shortly after Mr Guttenberg was led out of the address by a plainclothes police officer, with some Democrats applauding the man as he was removed.
His outcry was loud enough to attract both Ms Pelosi’s attention and Vice President Mike Pence’s, though Mr Trump did not indicate he was distracted by the outburst.
In response to the scene, supporters of Mr Guttenberg - including David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland shooting who has become a prominent gun safety voice - took to Twitter, using “#ImwithFred” to show support for the grieving father.
“@fred_guttenberg lost his daughter in the Parkland shooting and has worked every day since to end gun violence,” Hogg wrote. “Tonight he stood up to a president that believes peace and the second amendment are mutually exclusive and was removed.”
Later, Mr Hogg tweeted he hoped the next president would award Mr Guttenberg the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a reference to Mr Trump’s decision to give the award to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, after he announced he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
The Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots group aimed at achieving gun control reforms that began after the Sandy Hook shooting, shared its support of Mr Guttenberg on Wednesday morning.
“Thank you to @fred_Guttenberg for representing all of us who are so frustrated & angry that Trump protects the NRA & not our children & loved ones from gun violence,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Late Tuesday night, Mr Guttenberg spoke out about the confrontation.
“Tonight was a rough night. I disrupted the State of the Union and was detained because I left my emotions get the best of me. I simply want to be able to deal with the reality of gun violence and not have to listen to the lies about the 2A as happened tonight,” he wrote in a Tweet.
“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.”
Monday night was Mr Guttenberg’s second State of the Union address. He attended the event in 2019 as Ms Pelosi’s guest.
In a Newsweek article from 2019, Mr Guttenberg said he was saddened by the fact that he was present at the address rather than watching it at home with his family.
“I should have been home watching on our couch with my complete family,” Mr Guttenberg wrote. “I cannot erase the reality that I was there because my daughter Jaime was murdered.”
Mr Guttenberg expressed dismay that Mr Trump chose not to address gun safety during his speech that year as well.
“As the president knew during his speech, on the following day the first hearings in over eight years on gun violence prevention would be held by the House Judiciary committee,” Mr Guttenberg wrote. “He could have mentioned that, and his hope to work with legislators on gun violence. He stayed silent. He stayed irrelevant. He chose to not be useful on this real emergency.”