Meet the Father Who Tricked Ex-NRA Head into Addressing 3,044 Empty Chairs for Gun Violence Victims

The parents of a student killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School duped a former president of the National Rifle Association into giving a high school graduation speech defending gun rights in front of 3,044 empty white chairs — one chair for each student who could not graduate this year because they were killed by gun violence. David Keene, who still serves on the NRA board, thought he was giving a rehearsal speech for graduating students at the James Madison Academy in Las Vegas, but no such school exists. Video of the speech was turned into a viral video promoting universal background checks. The stunt was organized by the group Change the Ref, which was founded by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son Joaquin was shot dead in the Parkland, Florida, massacre. Manuel Oliver says the video has led to an outpouring of support from across the U.S. “We need to do these more often, because it shows that the NRA, the gun industry and the gun lobby are not as powerful as they say,” he says.

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