Gun control activist ousted from White House event after heckling Biden

When your approval rating is as low as Joe Biden’s is at the moment, there are few places where you’re immune from criticism. Even a tightly scripted White House event couldn’t stop Biden from getting heckled today, however, and even worse for Sleepy Joe, the complaints were from one of the folks invited to today’s “celebration” of the recently approved deal that expands background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, offers federal grant money for state-level “red flag” laws, and more.

Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was one of the victims of the Parkland shooting and who started the gun control group Change the Ref after his son’s senseless murder, ended up being escorted off of the White House lawn after interrupting Biden’s live remarks.

It’s hard to hear what Oliver was saying in the clip above, but The Hill provided a few details.

Biden was saying the country could make meaningful progress on gun violence when he was interrupted by Oliver, who stood to make his voice clear. The event was carried live on some cable television networks.

“Because make no mistake—” Biden said when he stopped to try to hear what Oliver was saying.

“Sit down, you’ll hear what I have to say, if you think—” Biden said.

Oliver appeared to be suggesting the legislation did not go far enough, but much of his comments were inaudible to the crowd.

“I’ve been trying to tell you this for years, for years,” Oliver said.

“We have one, let me finish my comment … let him talk, let him talk,” Biden said.

White House personnel then escorted Oliver out of the event. The event was attended by advocates from various gun violence prevention groups and survivors and family members of victims of mass shootings from across the country.

“Because make no mistake about it, this legislation is real progress, but more has to be done,” Biden continued.

In the clip above, you can hear that Oliver got a smattering of applause from other anti-gun activists at the invitation-only event, which is even more embarrassing for Biden and Democrats desperate to convince their base that the deal brokered by Democrats and a handful of Republicans is worth celebrating. In fact, the White House’s repeated use of that term for today’s event was one of things that had Oliver so worked up.

“It’s been a while that I’ve been calling out that using the words celebration, getting together, it’s like we’re going to a party, to a wedding today, you know, we all received invitations. And meanwhile, you can see these mothers in Uvalde that just saw how their kids were massacred inside a school,” he said.

He argued that the bipartisan gun control bill is not enough and that there should have been tougher provisions in the legislation.

“I really wish there was more in this package of bills and I will do everything, whatever I can to get more in this package of bills,” he told CNN. “This is not the beginning or the end … this is part of a process and there was no reason for this event to be called as it’s called right now. We are celebrating and getting together in the White House — there’s no space for that word.”

I’m wondering why Oliver was even invited to the White House, given that this isn’t the first time he’s criticized the administration for what he believes is a lackluster effort to put more gun control laws in place. Yes, he was in attendance earlier this year when Biden gave a speech on “ghost guns” and didn’t interrupt the proceedings, but he also bragged that his invitation was because of his “disruptive behavior.”

The White House should have known going in that Oliver was apt to use the president’s address to try to shame Biden into not doing more, but maybe they worried that leaving Oliver off the guest list would cause even more problems with gun control activists.

Oliver’s outburst is indicative of the fact that while Democrats are largely supportive of the gun control measure signed by Biden a couple of weeks ago, even they don’t think it’s going to make much difference in reducing crime. Just 11% of Democrats surveyed by Pew Research said that the new law will help reduce gun violence “a lot”, while 17% said it won’t do anything to make us safer. 57% of Democrats say the new law will help “a little”, but that’s probably not going to help Democratic candidates much, if at all, at the polls come November. I’m pretty sure that Manuel Oliver will still go out and cast his vote for every anti-gun candidate on his ballot. The question is how many low-intensity voters who typically side with Democrats simply stay at home this year. My guess is that it will be a fairly significant number, and the lack of enthusiasm among the left for what Biden hoped would be one of his major legislative accomplishments will most certainly be a factor.

 

 

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET