The father of one of the teenagers killed in the Parkland school mass shooting heckled President Joe Biden before he was kicked out of an event at the White House meant to celebrate the passage of the new bipartisan gun law.
The gun safety legislation, which was passed after recent gun rampages in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, incrementally toughens requirements for young people buying guns, denies firearms to more domestic abusers and helps local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous.
But it also comes after the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park where seven people were killed and 46 injured.
On Monday, Manuel Oliver whose 17-year-old son was one of 17 teenagers killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, stood up as the president delivered his remarks on the South Lawn and told him that it wasn’t enough. Oliver has staged several protests pushing for stronger gun legislation, and in February he climbed a 150-foot construction tower next to the White House.
As Biden on Monday delivered his remarks, saying that ‘we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence’, Oliver interrupted him, saying: ‘We have to do more than that! I’ve been trying to tell you this for years.’
Biden then told him: ‘Sit down – you’ll hear what I have to say. Let me finish my comments.’
But as White House staff stepped in to talk to Oliver, Biden then said ‘Let him talk; let him talk.’ However, the staff still escorted Oliver out of the event.
Afterwards, Oliver said there was nothing to celebrate.
“There’s nothing to celebrate,” he told the Miami Herald. It’s a big lie. We lie among ourselves thinking we have a solution to this when we actually don’t. There was no need for this event. At all.’
Oliver said he stood up at the event because it was his chance to talk to Biden.
‘It was my chance to say something to the president, and that’s a chance we don’t have every single day,’ Oliver said. ‘That’s pretty much what this is about.’
The president formally signed the gun bill into law on June 25 with first lady Jill Biden at his side.
But he celebrated its passage on Monday with 80 lawmakers who voted for it – including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas – and almost 1,000 other people on the South Lawn, including survivors and family members of victims of mass shootings from Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe, Uvalde, Buffalo and Highland Park.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering were also at the event.
During his remarks, Biden renewed his call for assault weapons to be banned.
“Assault weapons need to be banned,” he said. ‘I’m determined to ban these weapons again.’
Biden was a leader in the passage of the assault weapons ban when he was in the Senate. It expired in 2004.
I know public policy can seem remote, technical, and distant from our everyday lives. But because of your work, your advocacy, your courage, lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this,’ he said.
‘We will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence,’ he added, ‘But if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved.’
Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is escorted out of President Joe Biden’s event to celebrate the new bipartisan gun law
White House staff escorted Manuel Oliver from the event after he heckled the president, asking Biden why he didn’t do more on gun reforms
President Joe Biden on Monday renewed his call for an assault weapons ban
Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the Parkland mass shooting, interrupts President Joe Biden as he delivers remarks to celebrate the passage of gun law
We have to do more than that! I’ve been trying to tell you this for years,’ Manuel Oliver yelled at Biden
Joaquin Oliver, Manuel’s son, was one of the 17 people killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
Manuel Oliver with his son Joaquin
In February 2022, Manuel Oliver climbed a crane outside the White House to call for gun legislation to be passed.
Gabby Giffords, who was shot by a constituent in January 2011, hugs an audience member during President Biden’s event
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 25 with first lady Jill Biden by his side
The law, meant to reduce gun violence, was overshadowed by the July 4th shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people died and 46 were wounded – above belongings are shown left behind at the scene of the Highland Park mass shooting
Ahead of the event, Biden took to the White House social media accounts to ask Americans to share their stories of gun violence.
“I received over 2,500 responses in 24 hours,” he said.
In his speech, Biden called for additional legislation that would bring about safe storage laws requiring personal liability for not locking up a gun and more background checks.
I have four shotguns, two are mine and two are my deceased son’s. They’re locked up,’ Biden said.
‘Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States, more than car accidents, more than cancer,’ the president said, his voice growing louder as he called for more to be done.
Vice President Kamala Harris introduced Biden at the event and gave him credit for the reform.
‘We would not be here were it not for the vision, the courage and the unwavering determination of one particular individual, Joe Biden,’ she said.
Republican Senator John Cornyn’s communications director Drew Brandewie wrote on Twitter of Biden: ‘He was nonexistent.’ Cornyn helped negotiate the final legislative text that passed Congress.
The law, which received bipartisan support in the House and Senate, toughens background checks for younger gun buyers, bolsters background check requirements and beefs up penalties for gun traffickers.
It also prohibits romantic partners convicted of domestic abuse who are not married to their victims from getting firearms – closing the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole.’
Convicted abusers who are married to, live with or had children with their victims are already barred from having guns.
Additionally, $750 million will be provided to the 19 states that have ‘red flag’ laws making it easier to temporarily take firearms from people judged dangerous, and to other states with violence prevention programs.
States with ‘red flag’ laws that receive the funds would have to have legal processes for the gun owner to fight the firearm’s removal.
It will disburse money to states and communities to improve school safety and mental health initiatives.
Guests at the event held photos of loved ones who were victims of gun violence
Fred Guttenber, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the Major Stoneman Douglass High school shooting, hugs Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who helped pass the bipartisan gun legislation that Biden signed into law
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) (L) talks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) during the event
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the event celebrating the gun law
President Biden walks through the White House Rose Garden on his way to the event to celebrate the gun law
But one thing the law does not do is ban assault weapons, which Biden has pushed for in the past.
Biden, when he signed the bill into law, conceded the legislation doesn’t have everything he wanted but ‘it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives.’
The president has said, however, there is more work to be done.
‘I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost 30 years into law, which includes actions that will save lives,’ Biden said after the July 4th shooting. ‘But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.’
The new law came together in the wake of a spate of mass shootings including one at a grocery store in Buffalo where 10 black people were killed and one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 17 children and two teachers died.