Gaetz’s behavior during the gun control hearing has been harshly criticized, particularly in light of his response to the father of a teenager killed during last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which galvanized gun control advocates around the country and birthed the #MarchForOurLives movement.
“You don’t just get to show up in Washington and because a terrible thing has happened to you… you get to jump up and scream and yell,” he said.
"You don't just get to show up in Washington and because a terrible thing has happened to you…you get to jump up and scream and yell."
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) February 8, 2019
Gun control activist Emma Gonzalez, who survived the Parkland shooting, urged her millions of followers to donate to Gaetz’s challenger in 2020.
He brought a holocaust denier to the State of the Union, he has just as hard of a time saying no to alcohol as he does to the NRA – ladies and gentlemen, the man who tried to throw out parents of victims from MSD from the hearing for HR8, @RepMattGaetz !
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 8, 2019
Shannon Watts, of Moms Demand Action, also condemned Gaetz’s attempt to Manuel Oliver, the father of shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, ejected from the hearing.
During today’s House hearing on #HR8, Rep. Matt Gaetz said building “the wall” would be more effective than background checks. He then got into an argument with @manueloliver00, whose son Joaquin was killed in Parkland, and tried to have him ejected. pic.twitter.com/8KjC8r9BWB
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 6, 2019
Gaetz’s defense of the border wall came after President Trump during his State of the Union address stressed the need for a border wall and announced that he has ordered 3,750 troops to prepare for what he referred to as a “tremendous onslaught.”
The president further claimed that “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working-class and America’s political class than illegal immigration” and that “working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration.”
In fact, the number of arrests by the Border Patrol is the lowest since the early 1970s, even as the number of agents has more than doubled.
Border Patrol made over 1.6 million arrests in 2000. At the time, there were just 9,600 agents nationwide. As the government has devoted more time and resources to staffing, surveillance technology, and fencing, that number has dropped steeply. 19,000 Border Patrol agents made 310,000 arrests during the last fiscal year.