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GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz tried to get Parkland parents removed from hearing on gun violence

The Week logo The Week 2/7/2019 Catherine Garcia
a man wearing a suit and tie: Matt Gaetz. © Alex Wong/Getty Images Matt Gaetz.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked that the fathers of two Parkland shooting victims be removed from a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, after they protested his remarks about guns and undocumented immigrants.

During the hearing Wednesday, Gaetz, who received $2,500 from the National Rifle Association during the 2018 election cycle, said that he hopes "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," and that building a wall along the southern border would be more effective than enacting background checks.

Sitting in the audience were Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg, who immediately protested Gaetz's remarks. Oliver's son, Joaquin, was killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, as was Guttenberg's daughter, Jaime. "Manny stood up and said, 'That's a lie, that's not true,'" Guttenberg told HuffPost. "I yelled out that our children were killed by an American male. Mr. Gaetz didn't care for our truth and made an inquiry to see if we could be kicked out."

Oliver and Guttenberg were both given a warning against interrupting the hearing. Guttenberg said he found Gaetz's behavior "disgusting, despicable, and vile. But I'm actually thrilled Mr. Gaetz acted like Mr. Gaetz. I think it was wonderful for the American people to see who he is as a person."

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