“My daughter, running down the hallway, was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice.”
Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the Florida high school shooting last week, was speaking to Republican Senator Marco Rubio and a spokeswoman from the National Rifle Association (NRA) Dana Loesch on Wednesday.
Gripping the microphone defiantly, Guttenberg asked the pair, over and over again, to “look at me and tell me: guns are a factor in the hunting of our kids”.
Watch Fred Guttenberg’s plea in the video below.
In the crowd, there were students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting occurred, and the families of those who were killed and injured. Guttenberg had hundreds of angry, grieving American citizens backing his message
“[An assault rifle] is too easy to get,” he told Rubio and Loesch. “It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can’t stand with everybody else in this room and say that, I’m sorry.”
Rubio and Loesch fumbled through their justifications.
Amelia Lester explains why the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida feels different to that of any shooting before it.
Mental health measures – not stricter gun laws – will end the killing, Loesch insisted. “People who are crazy should not be able to get firearms,” she said.
Rubio said he would support moves to improve background checks and ban bump stocks – accessories that turn guns into semi-automatics, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
He would also consider legislation to raise the legal age for purchasing an assault weapon from 18 to 21 – something Loesch said the NRA refused to do.
But he would not support a ban on assault weapons. And he will not stop taking money from the NRA and other pro-gun groups.
Addressing Rubio in particular, Guttenberg said: “Your comments this week and those of our President have been pathetically weak.”
Speaking of… President Donald Trump (who declined his invitation to attend the forum) tweeted to the world this morning calling NRA leaders “great people” who are working to “Make America Great Again”.
What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
All this justification and skirting the issue despite the fact 17 people were killed last Wednesday in the same shooting the claimed Guttenberg’s daughter.
The fact the gunman used the same weapon that was so ‘effective’ in the 2012 Sandy hook shooting, which killed 20 primary school children.
And the fact, Florida signified America’s 18th American school shooting causing fatalities in 2018 alone.
For the umpteenth time, the American President, his government representatives and the all-powerful gun lobby refuse to empathise with the victims of gun violence.
Even if the man facing them, staring them down from metres away, is grieving his teenage daughter who was killed in a senseless a semi-automatic rifle attack only a week earlier.