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Father of Parkland victim advocates for gun control in Ohio: 'I do this or I stay home and cry'

Posted at 10:53 PM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 01:09:16-04

CINCINNATI -- On February 14, Fred Guttenberg lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, to a shooting at her high school in Parkland, Florida. 

On February 15, he promised himself he would make Jaime's life matter. 

He, like others affected by the Parkland mass shooting, would travel the country and talk about his loss to anyone who would listen. With support, he believes he can pressure lawmakers to make "common-sense gun laws" that could prevent future mass shootings.

"I do this or I stay home and cry," he told a crowd at the The Transept Monday night.

Jaime Guttenberg, a dark-haired teenager who wears braces and smiles in the pictures that survive on her Facebook page, was among the last of shooter Nikolas Cruz's 17 victims that day, he said. Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, entered the building wielding an automatic rifle and carried out the massacre while an armed sheriff's deputy waited outside. 

"She fought for her life until the very last second," Guttenberg said of Jaime. "Running down the hall from an active shooter until -- boom. A single shot to her side severed her spinal cord."

There are only two sides in the conflict Guttenberg's family and more than a dozen others now inhabit, and they aren't comprised of Democrats and Republicans, he said. They're life and death. 

In appearances on network and cable TV as well as an emotional in-person conversation with Sen. Marco Rubio, Guttenberg has repeatedly asserted the need for new gun legislation, including raising the minimum age of purchase, subjecting gun buyers to mandatory background checks and banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Many of his legislative priorities match those of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, with whom Guttenberg said he planned to meet the following day.

"This has evolved out of my need to do something," he said. "We are part of a national tragedy. My daughter got caught up in that. My daughter was one of the last ones shot, and I don't know how I go to sleep if I don't do everything I can to prevent this from ever happening again."

Guttenberg's nonprofit, Orange Ribbons for Jaime, was founded to honor his daughter's memory, contribute to causes about which she was passionate and help her family continue to push for changes to gun law. Anyone who wishes to donate can do so at GoFundMe.