On March 7, Fred Guttenberg traveled from Parkland, Florida to Alexandria, Virginia to talk about his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, who was one of the 17 victims killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14.
Jaime was running for her life when a single bullet penetrated her back, severing her spinal chord.
At the Town Hall, Guttenberg told the sea of people listening to him talk that he can't remember if he told his daughter he loved her as she walked out the door for school; he had no idea it would be the last time.
Guttenberg then went on to say:
"Our family, who lived for her voice and her spirit, will never feel it again. It’s gonna be different. Her humor, her craziness, her energy, and her feistiness will be missed. My baby girl was the energy in our house, she was the energy in every room she ever went into and now our new normal is going to be a lot quieter.
I will miss the sound of her laughter … her unbelievable ability to never stop talking and how quickly she would say things because of how much she had to say. Those were the sounds that gave our life meaning and our house its energy."
The father has now dedicated his life to fighting for gun safety. He said he will never stop because no other parent should have to go through what he and 16 other sets of parents had to go through.
Following his passionate speech, the Town Hall was opened up for questions. A local elementary school student named Naomi approached the microphone and began a speech.
She began by telling Guttenberg and the two elected officials on the stage that she has organized a March 14 walk out at her school. She said:
“Some of our staffing and our principal haven’t exactly agreed or thought that it was safe. Now, I think that it is completely unacceptable that we are not free to exercise our right to be safe at school. It has been a concern of some of the staff that we will not be safe on our own school lawn and I encouraged them to tell us how we will be safe in our own classrooms in the world that we live in now and how it’s okay to walk into a store with an expired ID and buy an assault riffle.”
The room erupted into a standing ovations before Naomi could continue:
“So Congressman Beyer, Mr. Guttenberg, anyone who wants to come, I invite you to come because I’m sure we will be safe with any of you here. I hope that when I’m older that when I am in middle school and high school that I will not have to worry about going to school and being shot in my own classroom.”
And that’s when Guttenberg assured her that if he has anything to do with it, things are going to change.