Father of Parkland victim speaks out after being tossed from White House for chiding Biden
Parkland victim's father shouted as Biden marked gun reform legislation.
The father of a teenager killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting who was escorted from the White House Monday after he shouted at President Joe Biden said he's frustrated by the administration's approach to gun safety.
“We have to do more than that,” Manuel Oliver shouted at Biden, who was delivering remarks on the passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Biden responded to the interruption, telling Oliver to “Sit down, you’ll hear what I have to say.”
While being escorted out of the event, Oliver repeated that more must be done. Biden said, “Let him talk, let him talk,” as Oliver was led out of the White House.
Oliver's son, 17-year-old Joaquin, was murdered on February 14, 2018, when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 14 students and three staff members.
Shortly before Monday's event, Oliver said in a tweet, “The word CELEBRATION has no space in a society that saw 19 kids massacred just a month ago.” Oliver said he objected to the White House characterization of the event as a "ceremony celebrating" passage of the gun safety reform package.
Oliver said that he didn’t plan to interrupt the president’s speech, but that during the event he became frustrated.
“I start feeling a lot of celebration, mood, a lot of joy, collective joy, which isn’t [in] any way what we should be doing. There are people dying every day,” Oliver told ABC News Live in an interview Tuesday.“I lost my son…and it was the right moment to tell the president what I’m asking for,” he added.
Oliver, who was invited to the event by the White House along with hundreds of others affected by gun violence, told ABC News that the bill doesn’t do enough, and that he’s calling on the president to create an executive branch solely focused on gun violence.
The new law includes $750 million to help states implement "red flag" laws to remove firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, as well as other violence prevention programs. It also provides funding for a variety of programs aimed at shoring up the nation's mental health apparatus and securing schools.
It will enhance background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21 by giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of young gun purchasers, and makes it unlawful for someone to purchase a gun for someone who would fail a background check. Another key provision is closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole" so individuals in "serious" "dating relationships" who are convicted of domestic abuse will be prevented from purchasing a gun.
The bill was passed after recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.
Biden called the passing of this bill “real progress,” after decades without major gun reform in the nation.
"We will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence," Biden told the crowd on Monday. “But if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved.”
But Oliver, who since losing his son has dedicated his life to fighting for stricter gun laws, said he hopes the president has more planned, and that this will not make enough of a difference in saving lives. “Why are we putting together this whole idea that we are solving a problem and not?” said Oliver. “We all know that it’s not enough, but we’re all OK with that?”
Oliver compared mass shootings to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the White House should treat the gun violence issue with the same urgency.
“You see how the whole nation created a group of people for COVID…Those things work and it will be a call directly from the president, has nothing to do with any member of Congress and Senate.” Oliver said he met with Biden two months ago in a traditional visit. They took a photo together and discussed the gun violence issue in the U.S., Oliver said.
“That day, Joe Biden told me, ‘you have to keep on doing what you’re doing, you've got to put pressure out there, pursue your goals,’” said Oliver. “And that’s exactly what I did yesterday.”
“We have to do more. He has his way of doing that, I hope,” Oliver added.
ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.
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