PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - During last Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing, Congressman Matt Gaetz of District 1 got into a verbal exchange with the fathers of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims. Olivia Michael spoke with him to get his response to the events that occurred.
Olivia Michael: Congressman Matt Gaetz joins us now, Congressman thank you for your time. Let's get right into it, From your perspective, what happened last Wednesday?
Representative Matt Gaetz: Well, Savannah Lindquist is a 24-year-old rape survivor. She had just shared her story in the judiciary committee of how in a gun-free zone she was unable to carry her firearm at a college campus and was violently raped. And then a man twice her size, I did not know who he was, was less than ten feet behind her and he kept standing up and, three different times, yelling and screaming. It was obvious from body language and just her eyes that was frightening to her and so I inquired to the chairman whether or not there were procedures allowed us to maintain some sense of decorum in the judiciary committee. I understand that Mr. Oliver must be going through a feeling that really none of us can relate to - the loss of a child - but a lot of people bring their anguish and pain and loss to the Congress and there's a reason why we don't let everybody just stand up in a committee room and yell because it can sometimes be scary or intimidating to other people that are there to share their views and their experiences as well.
Olivia Michael: I'm sure like you had mentioned, you understand the frustration that both those fathers who lost their children must be feeling. So what's your message to them, and then what's your message to your constituents of District 1 that you represent?
Representative Matt Gaetz: My message to the families of Parkland, and really to all families who lost someone as a consequence of gun violence, is that we really need to work on this issue at the root cause and that's where people are so disrupted in their own lives that they want to bring death to others. I mean that's a deeply troubling event and we all need to work together to make that less likely of an occurrence. For my constituents I would simply say, you elected a fighter, you elected someone to come up to Washington and fight for the constitution. The Second Amendment is part of the constitution and I intend to make sure it's well protected. That doesn't mean we don't need to hear out and be open-minded to people who bring views to us. But it also doesn't mean we need to simply have to allow the Congress to devolve in the absence of any respect or decorum for one another.
Olivia Michael: This has received a lot of recognition across the nation on a national network. Do you think you were taken out of context?
Representative Matt Gaetz: Yeah, definitely. The national media really selectively edited my remarks and what they excluded was the praise that I levied onto those in Florida who had worked for red flag laws to be able to identify people who might engage in mass violence. I also praised the way we upgraded our Baker Act system so that we don't take people in Florida and return them back to their arsenals. But I was making the argument under the Tenth Amendment that we did not need a one size fits all gun control policy from the Congress. That really what we needed to do was protect the Second Amendment and allow states to innovate around the ways to identify people who are most likely to commit these mass atrocities and then find a way to direct law enforcement to those individuals.
Olivia Michael: And to give our viewers some perspective the hearing was about H.R. 8 which is a bill that essentially requires checks on almost all guns sales and gun transfers. What are your thoughts on that bill?
Representative Matt Gaetz: I'm not supportive of national gun control legislation. It offends the Second Amendment to the constitution. It offends the Tenth Amendment to the constitution. I support national concealed carry reciprocity. In Florida, as we've seen, more of our citizens get concealed carry permits and become responsible gun owners, we've actually seen crime go down in our state and so I think responsible gun ownership is a great way to make sure that we have less gun violence. I don't support national gun control.