The parent of a student killed in the Parkland shooting is pushing back on the new National Rifle Association president's attempt to brand gun-control advocates as "civil terrorists." A number of Parkland student survivors have vocally supported stricter gun laws in the wake of the Valentine's Day shooting, which left 17 dead and more than a dozen injured. In a series of emotional tweets published late Thursday, Fred Guttenberg called out NRA president Oliver North for what Guttenberg described as a "hateful, shameful, cruel, stupid, pathetic remark."
North, who was named the NRA's new president earlier this week, recently described the gun rights lobby as under attack and labeled gun-control advocates as "civil terrorists" in an interview with The Washington Times. "They call them activists. That's what they're calling themselves," North said. "They're not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that's never been seen against a civil rights organization in America."
North went on to liken the social media campaigns launched by Parkland students and other gun control advocates to "cyberwar." He also claimed gun control advocates had "confused the American people" about the Parkland shooting. "Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA," North said.
North's comments drew powerful criticism from Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland school shooting. "When I heard you were selected President of the NRA, it was my hope that you would have gained a moral compass at some point during your adult life. Clearly that did not happen," Guttenberg wrote in the series of tweets addressed to North.
"How dare you call me a civil terrorist," Guttenberg went on to tweet. "How dare you call the kids and other parents civil terrorists. We are fighting for our life and the memory of those we loved."
In his tweets, Guttenberg says he's become "a fierce advocate for gun safety" since his daughter's death and acknowledges he has directly called out the NRA. "Throughout this process I have refused to personally attack anyone," he wrote. "However, your ridiculous, hateful, shameful, cruel, stupid, pathetic remark has certainly tested me."
According to Guttenberg, it would have been more appropriate for North to offer his condolences or issue a statement asking for a meeting rather than call Parkland survivors and gun-control advocates "civil terrorists."
"So that we are clear, the other Parkland gun-crime victims and I are not civil terrorists," Guttenberg wrote on Twitter. "We are a determined group. We will end your reign of terror and we will pass common sense gun safety in this country."
Speaking to The Washington Times, North appeared to suggest that the NRA was being treated worse than African Americans had been treated during an era of legal segregation and state-sanctioned racism. "You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn't have this kind of thing," North said. "They can do all the cyberwar against us — they're doing it. They can use the media against us — they are. They've gone after our bank accounts, our finances, our donors, and obviously individual members. It's got to stop."
But not everyone is buying that narrative of alleged NRA oppression. "Your remarks sound like the remarks of a lobby that has already lost the argument and so you attack us," Guttenberg wrote in criticism on Twitter. "Oliver Noth (sic), my daughter was murdered by an AR 15 in school and nothing changes that, and so I do not care what you think of me."