The parent of one of the students killed during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has spoken out in response to the latest school shooting, urging the country to “wake up” and face an issue that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Speaking with Lana Zak for CBS News, Manuel Oliver—whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was killed in the Parkland shooting—said he was “very angry” to see such violence repeated once again at at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde where at least 19 children and two adults were killed.
“You will hear these politicians sending their thoughts and prayers and some of them will say ‘our hearts are with the families.’ Well guess what? The families don’t need your freaking hearts,” Manuel said, as seen in the video above. “They need their kids and the kids are not there anymore. So I feel very angry and offended and I just don’t understand how come a whole society doesn’t wake up.”
Later into the interview, Manuel detailed the multifaceted problem at the center of continued inaction on gun safety, predicting that “nothing” substantial will be done after this shooting either.
“It’s about money. It’s about interests. It’s about power,” he said. “Our politicians, our House and Congress, our senate—they do nothing about this. They think they’re somehow outside of the equation of probably getting shot, or their kids. But you know what? It’s gonna take more kids dying. Or maybe they won’t react, even with more kids dying.”
Not only has it been several years since he lost his son to such a shooting, Manuel noted, but the U.S. has also seen hundreds of thousands of lives lost to gun violence during that time.
Asked if continuing to pursue new gun legislation at the state level was still the path forward, Manuel disagreed, stating this will remain an “urgent” issue in need of change at the federal level. Furthermore, real change will require everyone to participate in the “shifting” of a culture that is quite literally resulting in consistent and preventable deaths.
“This requires a whole nation shifting a culture that is killing Americans,” Manuel told CBS News. “We kill each other. We are protecting people from war in other nations and we have our own war here.” See the full interview above.
In remarks delivered from the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden evoked both the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, among other examples of similar U.S. violence, and questioned the ease at which assault weapons can be obtained.
“What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?” Biden said.
In its latest statement on Tuesday’s shooting, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announced that classes (as well as extracurricular activities) had been canceled for the rest of the school year.
“This is a difficult time for everyone, however the gentle support all school community members give to each other during this time is the first step in healing,” a district rep said.