Fred Guttenberg Becomes Adviser to Anti-Gun Violence Group After Nikolas Cruz Pleads Guilty

Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the student victims in the 2018 Parkland shooting, said Thursday that he's joining an anti-gun violence group as its senior adviser, the Associated Press reported.

The announcement comes a day after Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Guttenberg has become deeply involved in activism over the past few years since losing his 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, in the shooting. His goal in joining the Brady PAC is to help promote political candidates who have common goals of preventing gun violence in anticipation of the midterm elections next year, he said.

Guttenberg said that he visited his daughter's grave this week and "asked her for guidance," describing her as his "strength," AP reported.

"Jaime may only have been 14, but she was the toughest, wisest person I ever knew," Guttenberg said during an interview. "If you want to know my motivation for why I'm doing this with Brady PAC right now, that's the reason."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Fred Guttenberg Joins Brady PAC
Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the student victims in the 2018 Parkland shooting, said Thursday that he’s joining an anti-gun violence group as senior adviser. Above, Guttenberg leaves the courtroom at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on October 20, 2021, after accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to murder in the 2018 massacre that left 17 dead. Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool

Brady PAC, formed leading up to 2018′s midterm elections, supports candidates who promote gun violence prevention and spent $5 million during the 2020 election cycle. It has promised to pump millions more into next year's races.

Guttenberg, a 55-year-old former small business owner, said, "I believe we are one election cycle away from either getting this done, or one election cycle away from losing the chance."

"We do it now," he added, "or we never do it."

Guttenberg noted that Democrats, most of whom agree with him and Brady PAC on top gun issues, control Congress and could hold both chambers after 2022—even though the party that wins the White House, as Democrats did through Joe Biden in 2020, historically loses seats in the next election.

"I think people need to stop acting like everyone knows what's going to happen in 2022 and get back to working for what you want to happen," Guttenberg said. "I want more gun safety candidates elected to the House and the Senate. Period. Full stop. And I think that voters agree with me."

Cruz is accused of killing 14 students and three staff members during a seven-minute rampage through Stoneman Douglas, using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to shoot victims in hallways and classrooms. Cruz had been expelled from the school a year earlier after a history of threatening, frightening, unusual and sometimes violent behavior that dated to preschool.

The shootings caused some Stoneman Douglas students to launch the March for Our Lives movement, which pushes for stronger gun restrictions nationally. Besides Guttenberg, several other parents of students killed have become activists.

Last February, Guttenberg attended President Donald Trump's State of the Union address and began yelling after the Republican president said, "I will always protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms." Guttenberg was escorted out and later apologized via Twitter.

Guttenberg also drew attention in Congress in September 2018 when he attempted to shake hands with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a break at the latter's Senate confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh looked at him, turned and walked away. Kavanaugh later said that he had assumed Guttenberg was a protester and that he would have expressed his sympathy and shaken Guttenberg's hand had he recognized him before being whisked away by his security detail. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the court.

Brady PAC is the political arm of a nonprofit named in honor of former White House press secretary James Brady, who suffered a bullet wound to his head in the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in 1981.

Together with his wife, Brady became a leading gun control activist before his death in 2014. A federal law requiring a background check on handgun buyers bears Brady's name, as does the White House press briefing room.

Guttenberg Watches Cruz Plead Guilty
Fred Guttenberg is joining the top ranks of a progressive anti-gun group to promote like-minded political candidates around the country ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Above, Guttenberg, the father of slain student Jaime Guttenberg, wipes his eyes as accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings on October 20, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool