Pro-gun Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Northwest Florida created an uproar this week in a Washington hearing about gun control, pointing his finger aggressively at a parent who lost his 17-year-old son last year in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and then asking Congressional colleagues how he could get the parent kicked out of the audience, according to numerous media reports and video.
You can see the video of Gaetz repeatedly pointing his finger at parent Manuel Oliver (whose son, Joaquin, was killed in the shooting a year ago next week) and agitatedly asking how he can get Oliver removed at this Miami New Times link. Oliver and another parent had shouted during Gaetz’s testimony.
Gaetz was making the case for Trump’s contentious border wall by listing examples of Americans who have been shot to death by undocumented immigrants and claiming that “a wall or barrier on the Southern border may have” prevented their murders.
The hearing in the House Judiciary Committee was to discuss a bill – labeled HR 8 – requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
“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,” USA Today reported Gaetz saying. “HR 8 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.”
His remarks evoked a verbal outburst from Parkland parent Oliver, who later told CNN that he found Gaetz’s comments “pretty offensive.”
“No. 1, I don’t think you’re qualified for this,” Oliver said about Gaetz. “No. 2, you’re’ asking us to waste time. You are wasting time from us really to go ahead and solve the problem.”
Sitting next to Oliver during the Congressional hearing was Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Parkland tragedy.
“Manny stood up and said ‘That’s a lie. That’s not true,’ and I yelled out that our children were killed by an American male,” Guttenberg told the Huffington Post. “Mr. Gaetz didn’t care for the truth and made an inquiry to see if we could be kicked out.”
Gaetz’s comments also provoked an on-the-spot response from fellow Judiciary Committee Democrat David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who said: “Is there any committee rule that prevents a member of Congress (from) making false statements in a committee hearing?”
Controversy follows the explosive Gaetz, who frequently appears on Fox News and is a strong supporter of President Trump and his quest to build a border wall. Gaetz has also become a close adviser to Florida’s new Governor Ron DeSantis. During the November recount election, Gaetz was filmed shouting in a man’s face during a protest outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office.