Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre, made a special trip to the Delaware County Democratic Party headquarters for a canvass kickoff rally held Oct. 26. He was in town to campaign for Danny O’Connor, candidate for the 12th Congressional seat, and to talk about his work for sensible gun regulations.
Guttenberg made headlines when he challenged Marco Rubio during a CNN town hall about his position on gun safety only days after his daughter’s death. And again in July, when he attempted to introduce himself to Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings, only to be rebuffed.
Delaware County Democratic Party Chair Peg Watkins welcomed the crowd on Oct. 26, which included several members of the gun safety organization Mom’s Demand Actions, and who had braved the rainy weather to show their support.
Guttenberg started his talk by describing what he went through in the days after he learned of his daughter’s death. It was during that period when he decided to dedicate himself to taking on the gun lobby in the hope of limiting its influence in a way similar to how the tobacco lobby no longer wields the power it once had with legislators. He said that “their power doesn’t come from their membership; their power comes from the money they get from gun manufacturers to spend on legislators that have been receptive.”
Guttenberg identified several milestones achieved since the Parkland shootings, including new Florida gun safety legislation and changes in gun and ammunition sales policies by Dick’s Sporting Goods, followed soon after by other retailers such as Walmart, which made similar changes in their sales policies.
“The grief that Fred and his family have suffered should never, ever be repeated, and yet it was just repeated in Pittsburgh less than 24 hours after Fred spoke to us,” Watkins said. “This is why we need a great majority of voters calling for reasonable gun regulations, and why it’s so important to strengthen the Democratic position in the House and the Senate.” She added that the climate of hate among extremists raises the risk of targeted gun violence.
She said Democratic Party volunteers have been phone-banking, canvassing throughout the 12th District counties, and writing stacks of personal postcards to voters in the district for several weeks.
In a Q&A after his talk, Guttenberg was asked about his interaction with Kavanaugh.
“With every single person I meet in D.C., I say, ‘Hi, my name is Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was murdered in Parkland.’ … What I was hoping to say to him was very simple: I wanted to remind him that he lived in a community very similar to Parkland, the kind of community you think ‘this will never happen’ in. But it did. And I wanted him to look at the father of someone who deals with this, and to remember my face when he hears those cases that the NRA is counting on him to go one way with. I wanted him to know there’s another side to it, and I wanted him to hear it from me.”
Submitted by the Delaware County Democratic Party.