PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Gun violence victims and families of loved ones lost gathered in Bayfront Park to remember the names of the 26 young students and staff who died at Sandy Hook Elementary nine years ago.
“We can let the shooting continue or we can act!“ exclaimed former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a victim of gun violence herself, calling for action. One person took it to heart because his was broken, “I’m trying to get a meeting inside the White House with President Biden to go over the issue of gun violence,” said Manuel Oliver.
Oliver, whose son Joaquin was killed in the Parkland shooting, has been standing in front of the White House for the last 13 days. He told CBS4 News he has no plans to go anywhere until he gets a meeting with the president.
“I’m not planning to go anywhere. I don’t have any plans for Christmas. I don’t celebrate it anymore. I used to have a lot of fun with Joaquin with the ornaments and the tree. But, all that magic was ripped off from my family.”
That holiday magic ripped away from Fred Guttenberg too, whose daughter, Jamie, was also murdered at Parkland. He plans to join Oliver in Washington, D.C. this Thursday.
“We have a President now who will sign gun legislation. We have a House that is introducing and passing legislation and we have a Senate that’s now locked at 50/50 with a filibuster,” said Guttenberg.
Guttenberg said 100 Americans are being shot a day. A teen shot near Miami Norland Senior High around the same time as this interview is proof of those daunting statistics.
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Guttenberg, fed up, pointed his finger squarely at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
“He called this an attack on the 2nd Amendment. He called this memorial an attack on the 2nd Amendment. He is pathetic. He needs to be replaced,” said Guttenberg, referring to 3,000 vases filled with white flowers at Bayfront Park representing 3,000 lives lost to gun violence in Florida in 2020.
“You have politicians aligned with the NRA who receive money from the gun industry to be somehow partners and endorse their campaigns,” added Oliver.
With legislation as close as ever to being passed, a reminder from one dad who lost his beloved son to all other parents out there.
“I’m here to protect other kids, your kids and any kid out there,” said Oliver.
Manuel Oliver says he’s building momentum on social media where you can follow him with the hashtag #MeetWithManny.
We reached out to Sen. Rubio’s office, but received no comment from them at the time of publication.