PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Fred Guttenberg, the father of a child killed in a shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 has spoken out on social media after a Portsmouth City Council member wore an AR-15 to a meeting Tuesday night.
Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime Guttenburg was one of 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is calling for the resignation of Councilman Nathan Clark.
Clark wore an AR-15 to the meeting, during which council voted 4-3 to approve a resolution declaring the city a “Second Amendment Constitutional City.”
Guttenberg shared a media tweet showing photos of Clark with a comment: “Councilman Nathan Clark resign. Citizens you represent should not be forced to accept him engaging in open intimidation with his AR 15. You gun lunatic, in spite of your letter, nobody knows your intent. My daughter did not know someone carrying an AR 15 would kill her.”
Guttenberg gave separate statement to 10 On Your Side.
“A couple of months ago, Moms Demand was greeted by men carrying AR 15’s as a form of intimidation. What this council member did was not with the intention of being productive, it was intended to intimidate. I learned the hard way that when someone is carrying an AR 15, we do not know their intentions. This councilman used his weapon to intimidate and gave others the belief that what he did was ok. For this, he should resign.”– Fred Guttenberg
Clark isn’t backing down from his stance on the issue. He also released a statement.
“The Parkland shooting was undoubtedly a tragedy, and no one should have to go through that. I have been in law enforcement for 30 years and at one point I was a school resource officer – I can’t begin to imagine being in that situation. I stand by my actions last night. My intentions were far from negative, as I was standing up for what is right. I acted positively, and received plenty of positive feedback in return. As I previously stated, I will continue to stand by the oath I have taken as a veteran, law enforcement officer, and member of Portsmouth city council.”– Portsmouth Councilman Nathan Clark
Virginia Del. Don Scott, who represents the 80th District in Portsmouth, said the move was a political stunt.
“To do that, I believe it’s irresponsible and I think it just exacerbates the situation and it prevents us from having an intelligent political conversation about what we need to do to protect our families,” Scott said.
In a letter to Portsmouth residents given out Tuesday, Clark described the point he was trying to make by wearing the weapon.
“The newly proposed gun legislation for the state of Virginia is ludicrous,” the letter reads. “The legislation will make criminals of lawful citizens and gun owners. Again, I am a law enforcement officer, and if this legislation is passed, I will also be made a criminal.
“Taking away the rights of our citizens not only puts them in greater danger, but the act is unconstitutional. Criminals have always and will always break the law. We must punish the existing criminals for their actions, and not take away the means of defense from law-abiding citizens.”
In contrast, a public relations spokesperson for Nathan Clark sent a screenshot of an email they said was from Dave McCain, the father of Virginia Tech shooting victim Lauren McCain.
In the email, McCain expressed offense at Guttenberg’s call for Clark’s resignation. He said he, as another parent of a mass shooting victim, supported Clark’s stance.
He said he was offended Guttenberg would “come to our state and make demands that he has no standing to make.”
“I am appalled that he would use the tragic circumstances surrounding the Parkland shooting to justify his qualification to speak in a state he does not live in.”
Where localities stand on the Second Amendment:
Localities across Virginia are considering the idea of becoming Second Amendment sanctuaries, which are localities that have pledged not to use public resources to enforce any laws they see as unconstitutional. Some have passed resolutions simply in support of citizens’ Second Amendment rights, while others have said discussions on gun laws belong in Richmond.
Here’s the rundown on where area localities stand:
- Accomack County: The Board of Supervisors did not make the county a “sanctuary,” but approved a resolution affirming its commitment to citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment Dec. 18.
- Chesapeake: City Council did not make the city a “sanctuary,” but approved a resolution affirming its commitment to citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment Dec. 10.
- Exmore: Exmore officials have passed a resolution to become a Second Amendment sanctuary city.
- Gloucester County: The Board of Supervisors voted to become a Second Amendment sanctuary.
- Hampton: City Council has not voted on any Second Amendment-related resolution, but hundreds voiced their support at the council meeting Dec. 11. The NAACP also attended and came out against the idea. Mayor said the issue is “premature.”
- James City County: The Board of Supervisors did not make the county a “sanctuary,” but approved a resolution affirming its commitment to citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment Dec. 10.
- Isle of Wight: The Board of Supervisors did not make the county a “sanctuary,” but approved a resolution to affirm its commitments to citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment.
- Mathews County: The Board of Supervisors voted Dec. 17 to become a Second Amendment sanctuary.
- Newport News: City Council has not voted on any Second Amendment-related resolution, but a large crowd attended a Dec. 10 meeting to voice support for gun rights.
- Norfolk: City Council has not voted on any Second Amendment-related resolution, but a large crowd of residents voiced their support Dec. 10.
- Northampton County: The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution expressing its support for the rights of citizens to bear arms under the Second Amendment Dec. 10, but the resolution did not declare it a “sanctuary.”
- Poquoson: Poquoson City Council voted to become a “Constitutional City” and uphold citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment Dec. 9.
- Portsmouth: City Council voted 4-3 in favor of passing a resolution declaring Portsmouth a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” Jan. 14.
- Southampton County: Southampton officials have passed a resolution to become a Second Amendment sanctuary city.
- Suffolk: City Council voted on December 16, 2019 in support of a resolution reaffirming Suffolk’s commitment to the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. On Jan. 15, City Council unanimously voted to amend the resolution to add a paragraph expressing the city’s “deep and abiding commitment to protecting all Constitutional rights” of residents, as well as its opposition to any law, regulation or other act that would unconstitutionally infringe on the rights of citizens, even beyond the Second Amendment. It also strikes two lines.
- Surry County: County officials did not make the county a “sanctuary,” but approved a resolution affirming its commitment to citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment Dec. 5.
- Virginia Beach: City Council voted Jan. 6 to become a “Second Amendment Constitutional City.”
- York County: The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Dec. 17 to become a “Constitutional City” and uphold citizens’ rights under the Second Amendment.