The father of a school shooting victim defended heckling President Biden during a White House event on gun control Monday — saying he had “nothing to lose” by speaking up.
“Some people say it was the wrong moment,” Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., told reporters. “I think you can’t wait for the right moment.”
“I just told the president, who I know personally, who I voted for, who I campaigned for, ‘President Biden, you can do more,’ ” he added.
Oliver rose as Biden spoke on the South Lawn to mark the passage of bipartisan gun policy legislation to call for the president to appoint a “gun czar” and start up a special White House office for the prevention of gun violence.
“You have to do more than this!” Oliver yelled. “You have to open an office in the White House!”
Biden initially told Oliver to “sit down” and added “you’ll hear what I have to say.” The president then appeared to soften his demeanor as a security officer approached Oliver, saying: “Let him talk, let him talk.”
Oliver was hustled out of the event while wearing a shirt emblazoned with his son’s face and the words “WE DEMAND CHANGE.”
He noted at the press conference held by the gun control group Guns Down America that Biden had “wanted me to keep on speaking.”
“I have nothing to lose. I don’t have a problem by saying things the way I say them,” said Oliver, later adding: “I think we have to fight back in the same aggressive way that gun violence is hitting us every day.”
Oliver was joined at the press conference by survivors of other mass shootings and family members of victims, who called on Biden and lawmakers to enact tougher firearm regulations.
“We’re not going to stay quiet and say, ‘Well done, Mr. Biden, Mr. President’ when there’s so much more to be done,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Redfield Ghawi was killed during a 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
“This president is not meeting the moment that we’re in,” Guns Down America executive director Igor Volsky told reporters. “He’s not laying out a plan for what he can and should being doing to save lives, and we simply don’t think — we don’t believe that that’s how a real champion of gun violence prevention behaves.”