The new president of the National Rifle Association, Oliver North, compared advocates of gun control to civil terrorists in an interview last week. The father of a 14-year-old girl killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February has offered a powerful rebuttal.
“We’re not criminal civil terrorists,” Fred Guttenberg told Newsweek in response to North’s remarks. “We’re people with a broken heart.”
“The NRA and people like Oliver North, to them, it’s a job,” Guttenberg said as he discussed the gun control debate spurred by the shooting. “They could retire and go on with their life. I can’t, because my daughter isn’t here.”
Guttenberg’s daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed in the February massacre.
North, named the NRA’s new president last Monday, told the conservative newspaper The Washington Times that the gun group had become the victim of “civil terrorism.”
Advocates for stricter gun control had launched a “cyberwar” against the NRA, he said, and threatened the group’s members. He gave the example of a protester charged with a misdemeanor after she sprayed fake blood on the home of an NRA lobbyist.
“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” North told the Times. “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing. We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”
North ― a retired lieutenant colonel known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s ― added that he did not believe that the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died had “fundamentally changed” the national gun debate. And he said the young survivors of the shooting, some of whom have emerged as leaders of the recent national movement against gun violence, had been “swept up by a broader propaganda machine.”
“What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he said of the activists.
North has been widely criticized for his comments. Stoneman Douglas students Lauren Hoggs and Cameron Kasky used Twitter posts to lambast North and the NRA.
Guttenberg also posted on the social media platform to challenge the NRA president.
“My daughter was murdered by an AR 15 … so I do not care what you think of me,” Guttenberg said in a series of messages.