Father of Parkland Victim Arrested at Congressional Gun Hearing

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manuel-oliver.jpg Activists Place Body Bags On National Mall For Gun Safety Legislation - Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
manuel-oliver.jpg Activists Place Body Bags On National Mall For Gun Safety Legislation - Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A man who lost his son in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, was arrested outside of a House hearing on the Second Amendment on Thursday. Manuel Oliver, as well as his wife Patricia Oliver, were ejected from the hearing after exchanging words with lawmakers prior to the arrest.

Freshman Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) posted a video of the arrest on social media. “MANNY IS A HERO,” Frost wrote. “He didn’t deserve this. The Republican Chair of this committee just called him a narcissist. Disgraceful.”

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“Patricia [Oliver] said one thing and the chair escalated the entire situation,” Frost elaborated in a separate tweet. The Olivers’ son, Joaquin Oliver, was killed by a gunman who murdered 14 other students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Oliver’s interrupted questioning from Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), with Patricia shouting “You took my son away from me!” In response to the disruption, Fallon asked if this was another “insurrection,” wondering “will they be held to the same — I don’t want another Jan. 6, do we?”

“If they’re trying to overthrow the government they ought to be held to the same standard. But I think they’re trying to express their views,” replied Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).

The hearing, titled “ATF’s Assault on the Second Amendment: When is Enough Enough?,” was hosted by the House Judiciary Committee. Members representing gun legislation groups, including Moms Demand Action, were visible in the audience.

Frustration with the GOP’s arguments was palpable. In one instance, Fallon questioned why, given the prevalence of alcohol and automobile-related deaths, there was such a focus on reforming firearm legislation. “Are we talking about regulating any more alcohol? […] Anyone want to ban cars?” he asked.

In another exchange, Rep. Tom Tiffany (R.-Wisc.) grilled a witness regarding President Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s use of drugs, asking why he had not been prosecuted. Another member of the committee called the line of questioning “totally irrelevant” to the proceedings.

In his remarks to the committee, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Cal.) thanked parents and activists for their continued fight for reasonable gun legislation. “I’m sorry you were targeted earlier,” he said. Swalwell then chided his colleagues for the various digressions and off-topic questioning, telling them to “do that on their own time.”

Following the hearing, Frost — who survived a 2016 shooting at a Halloween parade in Orlando — took to the House floor to torch Republicans’ lack of focus on school safety. “If Republicans cared so much about what’s happening in schools, what about the kids who are gunned down in their classroom?” he said. “The leading cause of death in this country being gun violence for young people?”

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