On a cold, snowy day in January, Manuel Oliver – armed with a bullhorn and a sculpture of his son Joaquin – stood outside the U.S. Capitol. He was joined by his wife, and dozens of supporters to urge members of Congress to pass a law requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.
Oliver has become a passionate advocate for reducing gun violence, after suffering a parent’s worst nightmare. His son Joaquin—lovingly known as “Guac”– was gunned down, along with 16 others, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day a year ago.
A visual artist, Oliver travels the country painting murals and using a 3D sculpture of Joaquin to ensure his son’s face is front and center in this fight. He wants to let others know “that people like my son, a 17-year old, can lose their life in a second.”
As the first anniversary of the shooting approaches, Oliver told Education Week, that some people believe his advocacy is part of a healing process. “It’s not,” he said, “It’s part of a mission. We’re here to raise the voices of every single victim of gun violence.