Fred Guttenberg lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, after suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Valentine’s Day massacre left 17 students and educators dead in what was called one of the worst mass shootings in the modern U.S. history.
During the recent Senate confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, Guttenberg decided to approach the judge. However, as he introduced himself and extended his hand for Kavanaugh to shake, the SCOTUS nominee appeared to snub him and deliberately turn away.
The entire scene was caught on cameras and immediately went viral.
Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended. Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) September 4, 2018
“I was there all day at the request of Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein,” Guttenberg told CNN in an interview following the senate hearing. “And when I was listening to Judge Kavanaugh this morning, at his introduction, he looked over at his family. And he specifically talked about his kids, and he's got a beautiful family. I went up to him as a dad, to be quite honest. I don't go home to my complete family anymore. My daughter was killed. And I am really concerned about how he is going to rule on certain things that matter a lot to me. Because I don't want to see other families go through what we've gone through.”
Kavanaugh’s record on gun control is troubling, to say the least. For instance, not only does he believe a ban on assault rifles is unconstitutional, he even once compared gun control “to a ban on a category of speech.”
“Candidly, my hope to him was simply to say, ‘I hope you change your stance. I hope you look in my eye. I hope you see that this pin that I wear on my lapel, or these bracelets that I wear, that's all I have to get close to my daughter now. And I hope you can be part of making sure no other parent has to feel the way I do. Because we can fix this,’” the bereaved father continued. “And I'm concerned that he won't be that person. But he's a father, and I tried, I was hoping to appeal to that.”
After the video of Kavanaugh seemingly turning his back on Guttenberg went viral, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah defended the judge, claiming “security intervened” before he could shake hands with an “unidentified individual.”
However, Guttenberg disputed Shah’s claim.
“I put out my hand and I said: ‘My name is Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was murdered in Parkland,’ and he walked away,” he told the Guardian. “If you watch the video, you see that’s not the case. What the White House said was not true.”
He also told Mother Jones a security guard pulled him away after his interaction with Kavanaugh. He said he was then removed from the hearing room and briefly detained by Capitol police, who only allowed him to return to the proceedings after instructing him to remain seated during the hearing.
It is important to mention, once again, Guttenberg was not disrupting the hearing. The judge was already leaving for recess when the father had approached him.
Meanwhile, Sen. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of Congress’ leading anti-gun violence advocate, also took to Twitter to thank Guttenberg.
I invited @Fred_Guttenberg to sit in the audience at today’s hearing because the Supreme Court affects the lives of real people. He knows firsthand how Brett Kavanaugh’s extreme views on guns could lead to more massacres. Thank you Fred, for honoring your daughter.— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 4, 2018
Social media users obviously had a lot to say about the handshake snub:
.@fred_guttenberg deserves better than a cold shoulder—not just because he’s Jaime’s dad & a dedicated advocate for gun violence reform, but because he’s an American citizen, here in DC participating in our democracy. https://t.co/WSmedKo7Z0— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) September 5, 2018
If Kavanaugh won’t even give him a handshake, how can we believe he would give gun violence victims a fair shake in court? https://t.co/OiDP6lB1Ez— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) September 4, 2018
Jaime Gutenberg was my classmate before she was ripped from us by an AR-15. I sit here, in anger, at how Kavanaugh chose to treat @fred_guttenberg. It’s simply a slap in the face to Jaime, Fred, and anyone who’s ever been affected by gun violence. https://t.co/NCqrAm4YCW— Kyra Parrow (@longlivekcx) September 5, 2018
Oooh. This video. The angle. No way to talk your way outta this. #Kavanaugh knew who it was and walked away. Shame. A handshake would have shown humanity and compassion. This shows the opposite. #StopKavanaugh is more important than ever. https://t.co/HiodGmxnbZ— Carla Day (@CarlaDay) September 4, 2018
Look at this picture.— Matt Deitsch (@MattxRed) September 4, 2018
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was slaughtered by a man who legally owned an AR-15, extends his hand to a man who could decide the fate of countless lives.
Fred introduces himself. Kavanaugh listens, nods, snubs the handshake, walks away without a word. pic.twitter.com/BsSP1zZuXP
In case you were wondering if Kavanaugh snubbed Jaimie Guttenberg’s grieving father accidentally because he did not know who he was, watch this video. Clearly, Kavanaugh snubs the man. How much time would it take to acknowledge him? The man’s child was murdered by gun violence. https://t.co/obA7f86NkL— Beki Knott (@lotsofuss) September 5, 2018
Not only has our country failed the many victims of these horrific gun massacres, but our leaders continue to ignore and snub the survivors who carry that agony with them every minute of every day.— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) September 5, 2018
Kavanaugh showed indifference and cruelty here. pic.twitter.com/8HEMAtL7m1
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Joshua Roberts