A contentious situation erupted at a congressional hearing on gun violence Wednesday when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tried to have two fathers of Parkland shooting victims removed when they interrupted him in the middle of a rant about illegal immigrants, NPR reports.
Gaetz, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, stirred a commotion during the hearing on gun violence, which was being held by the House Judiciary Committee when he listed circumstances in which violence attributed to undocumented immigrants. The solution, he said, is to build the wall Trump’s been pushing between the U.S. and Mexico.
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“I hope we do not forget the pain and anguish, and sense of loss felt by those all over the country who have been the victims of violence at the hands of illegal aliens,” he said. “[Firearms background check legislation] would not have stopped many of the circumstances I raised, but a wall, a barrier on the Southern border may have, and that’s what we’re fighting for.”
That didn’t go over well with Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg, whose children Joaquin and Jaime were killed in the February 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The two grieving fathers protested Gaetz’s comments. That led to Gaetz to ask that they be removed. The public is not allowed to speak when congressional hearings are in session and the two men were given a warning.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Gaetz, who continued to press for the men’s removal, Raw Story reports.
“Is there a process in the committee by which if the very same people are repeatedly interrupting the time of the members that those people will be asked to depart the committee?” Gaetz asked committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY).
Nadler told Gaetz he had the authority to remove those who interrupt but declined to do so at the time.
This tweet by Igor Volsky, the Executive Director at Guns Down, puts the spotlight on Gaetz’s temper tantrum.
This is beyond despicable. pic.twitter.com/YZF8EGW3hP
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) February 6, 2019
Afterward, Guttenberg told NPR what he and Oliver said to Gaetz.
“Manny told Gaetz his comments were not true, and I said our loved ones were killed by an American male.”
The alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, who was born in Florida, entered the high school on February 14, 2018, and reportedly opened fire, killing 17 people.
Now that the Democrats control the House, gun control has once again become a top priority, with many members showing support for a bill to require background checks on nearly all gun sales and almost all gun transfers. The bill, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 230 lawmakers will likely pass the House of Representatives but may founder in the Senate, which is largely controlled by Republicans.
The video below features the hearing in full.
Featured image by House Judiciary Committee Hearings via YouTube video