Sharp-eyed TV viewers and those who were in the Capitol during Donald Trump’s State of the Union address noticed a minor disturbance somewhere between the president’s mention of the Second Amendment and the space program. It was Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Parkland shooting victim Jaime.
A video clip from MSNBC showed his back as he was escorted out.
.@kasie: #SOTU protestor appears to have been removed from one of the galleries during president's address — many Democrats on the floor turned toward the gallery and applauded him as he was taken out of the chamber. pic.twitter.com/dYpfy8d6wd
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 5, 2020
“Tonight was a rough night,” Guttenberg tweeted later. “I disrupted the State Of The Union and was detained because I let my emotions get the best of me. I simply want to be able to deal with the reality of gun violence and not have to listen to the lies about the 2A as happened tonight.”
Trump’s speech mentioned “another constitutional right that is under siege” and pledged to protect gun rights.
(2,2) That said, I should not have yelled out. I am thankful for the overwhelming support that I am receiving. However, I do owe my family and friends an apology. I have tried to conduct myself with dignity throughout this process and I will do better as I pursue gun safety.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) February 5, 2020
“That said, I should not have yelled out,” Guttenberg continued on Twitter. “I am thankful for the overwhelming support that I am receiving. However, I do owe my family and friends an apology. I have tried to conduct myself with dignity throughout this process and I will do better as I pursue gun safety.”
Guttenberg was a guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he thanked for the invitation in an earlier tweet.
Many advocates for gun safety measures felt that Guttenberg, whose daughter was one of 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2014, had no reason to apologize.
“When POTUS started lying about gun violence, [Guttenberg] leaned over and said, ‘I’m about to get kicked out but I can’t stand this,’ “ Will Goodwin, another guest at the SOTU, tweeted. “And then he stood up for his daughter Jamie and spoke truth to power. #ImWithFred”
Parkland survivor and student activist David Hogg added his support of Guttenberg.
“If there’s one man to take down the NRA and end gun violence in America it’s @fred_guttenberg <— if you don’t already you should follow him,” Hogg wrote.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) February 5, 2020
In the weeks following the 2018 shooting, Trump met with some of the survivors and victims’ family members at the White House, and promised them that he would stand up to the National Rifle Association and work for strong background checks and other reforms. Months later, he was on the stage at the NRA convention in Dallas.
“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege,” he said at the time. “But they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.”
In an interview with CNN last year following the deadly shooting in El Paso, Guttenberg urged Republicans to stop talking about these tragedies until they were ready to pass real laws for gun safety.
“I don’t care about you, Mr. President, but I hate what you do,” he said. “It is time for you to stop talking on this topic until you are ready to give [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell the go-ahead to open up the Senate and actually take on legislation. Enough. Stay out of this. Keep your mouth just quiet unless you’re ready to actually be a serious participant in this conversation. Just stop.”