Fred Guttenberg—the outspoken gun control activist whose daughter was killed during the Parkland school shooting—was detained by Capitol police on Tuesday after he tried to shake Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s hand during a recess in Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing.
Guttenberg attended the hearing as a guest of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of Congress’ leading voices on gun violence prevention. Gun control activists have sought to shine a spotlight on Kavanaugh’s record in firearms cases, including a dissenting opinion in which he argued that DC’s local assault weapons ban is unconstitutional.
As he did during a televised town hall on CNN shortly after the shooting and during subsequent trips to Capitol Hill, Guttenberg spent the entire three-hour morning session standing near his aisle seat, his means of protesting federal lawmakers’ unwillingness to take up gun reform. As the hearing broke for lunch, Guttenberg approached Kavanaugh, his hand outstretched, to introduce himself to the nominee. Kavanaugh, stone-faced, paused and stared at Guttenberg before turning his back and walking away. Guttenberg’s appearance at the hearing was part of a coordinated effort by gun control activists to show up to Kavanaugh’s hearings this week, but he told Mother Jones via text message that he decided on his own to approach Kavanaugh.
Wow, here you can hear @fred_guttenberg telling Kavanaugh that his daughter "was murdered in Parkland," and Kavanaugh whirls and walks away pic.twitter.com/VdkTij2Vdp
— Tommy Xtophernobyl (@tommyxtopher) September 4, 2018
Guttenberg tweeted about the interaction soon thereafter:
Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended. Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) September 4, 2018
A security guard pulled Guttenberg away from Kavanaugh after the interaction. Guttenberg told Mother Jones he was then removed from the hearing room. After being detained by Capitol police, he was allowed to return to the hearing but was told he would have to sit down going forward.
As Kavanaugh critics erupted in outrage on Twitter, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah issued a tweet stating that security had intervened before Kavanaugh had the opportunity to shake Guttenberg’s hand.
Shah also followed up with a video of the gallery floor that, according to Shah, “clearly shows security intervened when Judge Kavanaugh was approached.” The video shows Guttenberg being led away by security, though it’s unclear whether Kavanaugh made any attempt to shake his hand or speak with him.
Guttenberg won’t be the only Parkland activist involved in the Kavanaugh hearings. Aalayah Eastmond, a Parkland survivor who serves as a youth leader for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is among the 13 witnesses who will testify against Kavanaugh’s confirmation later this week.