Parents of Parkland victim urge Biden to act on gun control | Gun Violence News

Parents of Parkland victim urge Biden to act on gun control | Gun Violence News


Washington, DC – When a gunman killed 4 college students at a highschool in Michigan final week, the tragedy not solely invoked painful reminiscences for Patricia and Manuel “Manny” Oliver, it pushed the couple to renew their name for motion.

The Olivers, who misplaced their son Joaquin in a lethal 2018 assault at a highschool in Parkland, Florida, are staging an open-ended protest in Washington, DC, to demand a gathering with President Joe Biden – and to urge him to “declare war on gun violence” within the United States.

“We need to increase the urgency and expose the message that we urgently need to do something different and not think these shootings are normal things,” Manuel informed Al Jazeera, sitting on a white cement block throughout from the White House.

The couple’s son was one of 17 individuals killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland when a 19-year-old former pupil – armed with a legally bought AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle – opened fireplace on college students and workers for six minutes.

Patricia described her son, 17 when he died, as “very special”, candy and intellectually curious. “I was numb. I was in shock. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t see,” Patricia informed Al Jazeera about how she felt after her son’s demise.

That grief, she added, by no means diminished; she solely realized to energy by means of it and mentioned activism was half of that course of. “I am here because Joaquin is letting me stay here.”

Bouquets are positioned at a memorial on the primary anniversary of the taking pictures at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2019 [File: Joe Skipper/Reuters]

‘Trigger’

The Parkland assault was one of the deadliest faculty shootings in American historical past – however removed from the final.

There have been 31 faculty shootings within the yr following the Parkland incident, in accordance to a CNN report, whereas a database by the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security has documented a whole lot of gun-related incidents on faculty grounds since 2018.

In one of the latest incidents, 4 college students have been killed, and 7 different individuals have been injured on November 30 when suspected shooter Ethan Crumbley, 15, opened fireplace at Oxford High School, north of Detroit. Crumbley is dealing with a number of costs, together with homicide and terrorism.

The Michigan taking pictures was a “trigger” for the Olivers to step up their activism, Patricia mentioned.

“We understand perfectly those parents and what they’re going through now,” she mentioned. “We were in that position almost four years ago. So, today when this happens again, we have the strength to take action right away.”

Dressed in a zipped-up black jacket with a necklace that includes a photograph of Joaquin, Patricia mentioned she and her husband are getting rather a lot of help for his or her protest. Friday was the couple’s ninth day close to the White House, and several other passersby stopped to greet them and laud their efforts.

They are utilizing the hashtag #MeetWithManny to unfold consciousness. Manuel, who campaigned for Biden and met with him final yr, mentioned turning to the president after the taking pictures in Michigan was a logical course of motion.

“What’s the highest authority in this place that we can talk to? That guy,” Manuel mentioned, pointing on the White House.

Biden urges laws

Amid a spate of lethal shootings earlier this yr, Biden denounced gun violence as a “national embarrassment” for the nation and pledged to do extra to sort out the issue. He has referred to as on Congress to cross gun control laws, and pledged extra funds for community-based violence prevention programmes.

“Talk to most responsible gun owners and hunters, they’ll tell you there’s no possible justification for having a hundred rounds in a magazine,” Biden mentioned in June. “There [are] too many people today buying guns that shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”

But with a political impasse in Congress, the place a mechanism often known as the filibuster grants the Republican minority within the Senate veto energy over main laws, the push to enact stricter gun legal guidelines faces an uphill battle.

On Friday, Manuel Oliver mentioned Biden nonetheless ought to declare a nationwide emergency and use his influential platform as president to prioritise the problem.

Biden has referred to as gun violence within the US a ‘national embarrassment’ [File: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

“If the president decides to declare war on gun violence and addresses that message at the State of the Union, that will mean a lot,” he mentioned, referring to the annual presidential tackle. “I’m just talking about the attitude from the leader of this country.”

Manuel confirmed Al Jazeera a press release {that a} White House official despatched them by way of e mail this week in response to the protest.

The official highlighted three House-approved payments to tighten gun-control guidelines which can be caught within the Senate, together with one that may require common background checks for gun consumers, in addition to Biden’s social spending laws, which incorporates funding for gun violence prevention.

“Americans young and old are dying from gun violence every day,” the assertion mentioned. “Every one of those individuals has a family and every one of those individuals leaves a hole in their community. That’s why the president will continue to pursue steps he can using existing authority to reduce all forms of gun violence.”

Gun tradition

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution grants the precise to “keep and bear arms” and gun rights advocates argue that weapons in the precise arms can save lives.

Powerful gun foyer teams, in addition to some US legislators from each main events, are additionally opposed to placing stricter guidelines in place, arguing that such measures would violate the Second Amendment.

But the push for stricter gun legal guidelines has gained momentum in recent times, largely due to the activism of Parkland taking pictures survivors. Months after the taking pictures, 1000’s gathered throughout the nation as half of the student-led March for Our Lives motion.

While the scholar activists succeeded in bringing gun violence to the forefront of the nationwide debate, prompting the passage of dozens of gun control legal guidelines on the state stage, gun violence has worsened since 2018.

Weapon gross sales have spiked in the course of the coronavirus pandemic and so has lethal gun violence final yr. But the Olivers say they’re assured that their battle in opposition to gun violence will succeed.

“It’s going to take a while. Just like the tobacco industries today have very little power … the same thing will happen with the gun culture and the gun industry – I think it is going to vanish with time,” Manuel mentioned.



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