FAIRFAX, Va. – Two fathers who lost children in the Parkland mass shooting in February joined gun-control activists for a “March on the NRA” at the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax.
“We will break that lobby’s grip on our legislators and we will win,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, said at the Aug. 4 protest.
“Let me say this to those who are outside of this crowd walking around with AR-15s and other weapons: if you’re a lawful gun owner, I hate the fact that you think you need to make a point to those of us who have lost loved ones. I hate the fact that you are doing it in such a vile, vicious, obnoxious and evil way. However, if you are a lawful gun owner, I support your right to do it – that said, we need to put in place laws and limits,” he added.
Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 people in the Valentine’s Day shooting. Cruz’s behavior before the massacre included potential warning signs that were missed by law enforcement and mental health professionals, according to reports.
“It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in February.
Manuel Oliver, who lost his son Joaquin in the Parkland shooting, called on the public to vote in favor of candidates who do not support the NRA in the midterm election on Nov. 6.
“I have to start being a little less polite,” Oliver said while wearing a “Just F**cking Vote” T-shirt. “I have a message from Joaquin and his dad to the NRA. F**k you. Enough with them – that was totally the attitude my kid had through life. Everything was about fighting for his life and the rights of others. He would be thinking that as we are thinking right now.”
Oliver said he would soon share which candidates gun-control advocates should vote for so they are aware of the difference between the “good guys and bad guys” heading into the midterm elections.
“As you can see, we are being a little more direct with the message. We started by saying ‘please register to vote, please vote.’ Now, ‘just f**cking vote,’” he said.
Guttenberg said that gun-rights activists who are against the passage of more gun-control laws are “delusional” and they “have no argument” to support their views.
“There is a mental health facility for people who think they are funny. Our children died and you guys are over there laughing – this is not funny. This is the reason we will defeat you,” he said to gun-rights activists. “You have no argument for what you believe. I support the Second Amendment but please, all of you, go step into a mental health facility and make sure you’re stable.”
Oliver addressed opponents of new gun laws.
“The price that I paid of losing my son is not even close to how you feel today. Until you understand that, then we can have an argument and then we can be on the same level. Until then, f**k you,” he said.
Satya Emerick, a student who helped organize the march, said many lawmakers have become “puppets to the NRA” and “pawns to those who paid them off to get into office.” She argued that any candidate who takes “NRA blood money is not concerned with the lives of their constituents.”
“Every decision they make, every vote we cast has been auctioned off to the highest bitter. Last election the NRA spent $36.6 million to elect candidates sympathetic to their organization,” said Emerick, who wore a “gays against guns” pin. “How can any one of us alone compete with the power of the NRA lobbyists who are more concerned about protecting corporate interests than protecting the American people from preventable gun violence?”
As the crowd chanted “vote them out,” she said, “NRA money and power have become a tool to mislead and manipulate the populace for the sake of gun companies’ profit margins. Millions of Americans are being manipulated into believing the NRA’s false image of patriotism. The notion that today’s NRA is looking out for your freedom and safety could not be further from the truth.”
Avery Jones, a Women’s March organizer, emphasized the importance of young voters casting a ballot in the midterm elections against candidates who support the NRA.
“To those who doubt the power of young people, remember we marched 18 miles from the NRA to DOJ last year – look at the walk out, look at March for Our Lives,” she said. “You are the force to be reckoned with. Power to the polls.”