Activist father of Parkland school shooting victim joins anti-gun group – NBC Chicago

The father of a 14-year-old girl killed in the 2018 Florida high school massacre announced Thursday that he is joining the upper echelons of a progressive anti-gun group to promote like-minded political candidates ideas across the country ahead of next year’s midterm elections. .

Fred Guttenberg will be Brady PAC’s senior advisor. Her daughter Jamie, a dancer and aspiring gymnast, died along with 16 other people in the 2018 Valentine’s Day shootout at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first degree murder for the shooting and could face the death penalty upon conviction in January. Guttenberg, who became a nationally recognized activist in the years following the shooting, said he visited his daughter’s grave this week and “asked her for advice.” Because Jamie is my strength.

“Jamie might only be 14, but she was the toughest, wisest person I’ve ever known,” Guttenberg said in an interview. “If you want to know why I’m doing this with Brady PAC right now, that’s the reason.”

Brady PAC, formed ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, supports candidates who promote gun violence prevention and spent $ 5 million in the 2020 election cycle. He has pledged to inject millions more in next year’s races.

Guttenberg, a 55-year-old former small business owner, said: “I think we are at an election cycle to have this done, or an election cycle to lose the chance. “

“We do it now,” he added, “or we never do.”

Guttenberg noted that Democrats, most of whom agree with him and Brady PAC on major gun issues, control Congress and could hold both chambers after 2022 – even if the party that wins the White House , as Democrats did through Joe Biden in 2020, historically losing seats in the next election.

“I think people need to stop acting like everyone knows what’s going to happen in 2022 and get back to work for what you want to happen,” Guttenberg said. “I want more gun safety candidates elected to the House and Senate. Period. Complete shutdown. And I think the voters agree with me.”

Cruz killed 14 students and three staff members during a seven-minute rampage through Stoneman Douglas, using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to shoot victims in hallways and classrooms. Cruz had been expelled from school a year earlier after a history of threatening, frightening, unusual and sometimes violent behavior dating from kindergarten.

The shootings prompted some students at Stoneman Douglas to start the March for Our Lives movement, which is pushing for tighter gun restrictions nationwide. Besides Guttenberg, several other parents of killed students also became activists.

Last February, Guttenberg attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address and started shouting after the Republican President said, “I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms . ” Guttenberg was escorted and later apologized via Twitter.

Guttenberg also caught the attention of Congress in September 2018 when he attempted to shake hands with Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh during a break during the Senate confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh looked at him, turned and walked away. Kavanaugh later said he assumed Guttenberg was a protester and that he would have expressed sympathy and shook hands with Guttenberg if he recognized him before he was taken away by his security service. Kavanaugh has been confirmed in court.

Brady PAC is the political arm of a nonprofit named after former White House press secretary James Brady, who was shot to the head in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan outside the Washington Hilton in 1981.

Along with his wife, Brady became a leading gun control activist before his death in 2014. A federal law requiring a background check for handgun buyers is named Brady, as is the Hall. press release from the White House.

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