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A Parkland Father Endorses Sen. Bill Nelson's Reelection To Congress

Sep 17, 2018
Originally published on September 14, 2018 6:19 pm

It’s been seven months since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. 

To mark the date, Parkland father Fred Guttenberg gathered families together at the Marriott Heron Bay Resort in the city -  the same hotel where his daughter Jaime's funeral was held in February.   

"I don't go watch her at dance. I don't get to go see her at school events. I go to a cemetery," he said.

Now, Guttenberg, who has become an advocate for stricter gun control laws and gun safety measures, has publicly endorsed Sen. Bill Nelson’s reelection to Congress.

"You were one of the very first elected officials to reach out to me," Guttenberg told Nelson. "Since then, I've watched as you've tackled the issue of guns in D.C, I've gotten to think about your history on this issue."

Read More: Stories from WLRN's Series Stoneman Douglas Stronger 

Nelson choked up during the speech.

"I am exceptionally grateful, but this is an endorsement that I wish I never had to have," he said. "What ought to be as common sense as anything - a comprehensive universal background check - we can’t even get up for consideration…we’re gonna have to get the votes."

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is running against Nelson, a Democrat, for his Senate seat in the November election. 

Guttenberg said he felt Scott did not take enough action while he has been serving as governor, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 and the shooting at Fort Lauderdale’s airport in 2017. 

"Perhaps, had more been done previously I would only be known amongst the same small group of families that knew me as Jesse and Jaime’s dad. Unfortunately, I don’t have that title anymore," he said. "I’m just spending my time with Jesse, and because of Jaime’s loss, I am now in this role of advocate. And I… need to support candidates who will do something for our public safety."

Members from the activism group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is a part of the political group Everytown For Gun Safety, also came to the meeting, along with Stoneman Douglas students and local families. 

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch  came to talk to Parkland families and support Nelson. 

"Less than two months before this upcoming election…it is because of the passionate advocacy…that the issues of gun safety remains at the forefront of the debate," said Deutch, a Democrat. "Don’t let people tell you the issue has fallen by the wayside."

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