Tuesday’s massacre in a Texas elementary school pierced parents such as Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg.
Like Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, Guttenberg found himself thrown back in time.
Jaime, 14, was shot down as she fled the gunman in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
On Tuesday, 19 students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman in Uvalde, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
“It just pulls me back to a moment that is unfathomable,” a visibly weary and angry Guttenberg told anchor Chris Hayes on MSNBC Tuesday evening.
He admitted feeling pulled to comfort his wife, who was also reeling, while at the same time feeling a responsibility to speak out.
“The country needs to hear our voices,” he said of parents of the victims and the need to call for action against barely regulated gun sales. “Ninety percent of the American people want this dealt with. But there is a very specific group, and they have managed to hold the country hostage.”
He noted the slew of Texas politicians slated to speak at the National Rifle Association convention later this week, including Gov. Greg Abbott.
“They mock the issue,” Guttenberg said.
In particular he called out Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.
“He put out a statement today that looked exactly like the statement he put out when my daughter was killed,” Guttenberg said.
“Horrified and heartbroken by reports of the disgusting violence directed at innocent schoolkids in Uvalde, Texas,” McConnell tweeted just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday. “The entire country is praying for the children, families, teachers, and staff and the first responders on the scene.”
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While Guttenberg did not quote either statement, a quick Twitter search yielded said statement.
“I’m deeply saddened by the horrific violence in Florida,” McConnell tweeted on the day of that school’s massacre. “Praying for the victims, their families, and the Parkland community. Always grateful for first responders who charge into harm’s way.”
Not much has changed since then save the number of victims, Guttenberg said.
“We know exactly where the problem is,” Guttenberg said. “If this latest shooting doesn’t shake them … there’s an election not too far away. Let’s kick their butts out of the Senate, because they’re not doing their job.”
Both Guttenberg and Hockley had messages for the bereaved and traumatized families, urging them to reach out for help.
Guttenberg has been touring the country for a year visiting families of gun victims, and is about to head to Buffalo, where a teen gunman bent on killing Black people shot up a grocery store on May 14, killing 10 and wounding three.
“I continue to be amazed by these amazing people who become shattered and broken and end up going forward as part of the fight to do something about gun violence,” he told Hayes. “I continue to be amazed that this entire universe of survivors, knowing the challenges that exist in the Senate, continue to push forward simply because they don’t want this to happen to somebody else.”