The father of a 17-year-old boy killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, mass shooting heckled President Joe Biden during a speech meant to showcase a new law aimed at reducing gun violence in the nation.
"Sit down! You'll hear what I have to say, Biden shouted at Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was killed in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. "Let me finish my remarks.'
It was unclear exactly what Oliver said, but he had criticized the event earlier Monday in his Twitter feed:
The word CELEBRATION has no space in a society that saw 19 kids massacred just a month ago. "Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years." Not me, not Joaquin. @ChangeTheRef
Oliver was quickly escorted off the grounds.
At the event, Biden and others onstage commented that the Safer Communities Act should be just the first step toward a full ban of assault weapons.
"Now is the time to galvanize this movement because that's our duty to the people of this nation," Biden said. "We're living in a country awash in weapons of war."
The law, passed after recent gun rampages in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, incrementally toughens requirements for young people buying guns, denies firearms to more domestic abusers and helps local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous.
Biden hosted hundreds of guests on the South Lawn, including a bipartisan group of lawmakers who crafted and supported the legislation, state and local officials — including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering — and the families of victims of both mass shootings and everyday gun violence.
"Because of your work, your advocacy, your courage, lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this," Biden said.
"We will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence," he added, "But if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved."
"We can't just stand by," Biden said. "With rights come responsibilities. If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it and keep it under lock and key."
Biden on Saturday invited Americans to share with him via text — a new White House communications strategy — their stories of how they've been affected by gun violence, tweeting that "I'm hosting a celebration of the passage of the Safer Communities Act." He told some of their stories on Monday — of people traumatized by shootings and kids left orphaned.
The president signed the bipartisan gun bill into law on June 25, calling it "historic."
Most of the new law's $13 billion in spending would be used for bolstering mental health programs and for schools, which have been targeted by shooters in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland. The law was the product of weeks of closed-door negotiations by a bipartisan group of senators who emerged with a compromise.
It does not include far tougher restrictions that Democrats and Biden have long championed, such as a ban on assault-type weapons and background checks for all gun transactions. Prospects are slim for any further congressional action this year.
This article contains reporting from The Associated Press.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.