Gun safety activist Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland school shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, said Friday that he “broke down and cried like a baby” when President Joe Biden referred to his daughter as he slammed firearm violence in a speech at the White House Rose Garden.
Freshman Jaime Guttenberg, 14, was shot in the back as she fled a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida three years ago. Her dad has since become one of the most powerful voices against gun violence. Jaime’s brother, Jesse, survived the attack that killed 17 students and staff.
Biden said in his remarks Thursday: “The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation.” Gun violence in the nation is “an epidemic, for God’s sake. It has to stop,” he added.
Biden called out other attending parents of children who had been killed by gun violence, and survivors of attacks, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head in 2011 as she spoke to constituents in front of an Arizona grocery store.
“I see my friend Fred Guttenberg,” said the president. “His daughter, Jaime, was a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She was an accomplished dancer.”
Biden said of those present who had been deeply impacted by firearm violence: “They’re here, and their pain is immense ... Thank you for having the courage to be here, the courage to continue this fight.”
The president on Wednesday signed a series of executive orders directing the Justice Department to begin a crackdown on guns, and announcing a nominee to lead the federal agency charged with battling illegal gun trafficking for the first time in years.
For further congressional action supported by Biden, Guttenberg offered Friday to fly to meet with any member of Congress to discuss gun safety.
A year ago, when Donald Trump vowed he would battle to keep guns in Americans’ hands during his State of the Union address, Guttenberg — who was a guest of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — shouted: “What about victims of gun violence like my daughter?”
He was escorted out.
Followers on Twitter were moved by Guttenberg — and touched by his tears.