Floridians got a chance to speak with elected officials last night at a CNN hosted town hall about the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Jake Tapper moderated the town hall and audience members were able to ask questions directly to Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, and National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch. Emotions ran high as survivors of the shooting and parents of teenagers killed in the attack put pressure on Sen. Rubio and Loesch about their desire for gun law reform. Here’s some of what went down.
Shooting survivor Cameron Kasky wanted to know if Sen. Marco Rubio would stop accepting NRA money.
Kasky asked: “So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?”
“Number one, the positions I hold on these issues of the second amendment I’ve held since the day entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official,” Sen. Rubio told Kasky. “Number two, no. The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda. And I do support the Second Amendment. And I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that’s why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for during my time here.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, confronted the senator about his stance on gun control.
“Senator Rubio, I just listened to your opening and thank you. I want to like you. Here’s the problem. And, I’m a brutally honest person, so I’m just going to say it up front,” Guttenberg told Sen. Rubio at the town hall. “When I like you, you know it and when I’m pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak. So, you and I are now eye to eye. Because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And, look at me and tell me you accept it, and you will work with us to do something about guns.”
“I’m saying that the problems that we’re facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone,” Sen. Rubio told Guttenberg. “And I’m going to tell you what we’ve done already and what I hope we’ll do moving forward.”
Guttenberg pressed for him to acknowledge the use of guns to “hunt” the teenagers at the school and Sen. Rubio did. However, when asked about whether or not he would support legislation to limit access to such guns, Sen. Rubio aired on the side of not restricting access to all assault weapons.
“So let me be honest with you about that one. If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening I would support it. But I want to explain to you why it would not,” Sen. Rubio told Guttenberg. He added: “I do believe what you’re saying is true. I believe that someone like this individual and anyone like him shouldn’t have any gun. Not this gun, any gun. But I want to explain to you for a moment the problem with the law that they call the Assault Weapon’s Ban. And if you’ll indulge me for a minute to explain to you the problem. First you have to define what it is. If you look at the law and it’s definition, it basically bans 200 models of gun, about 220 specific models of gun.”
The crowd interrupted with applause as Guttenberg vocalized his desire to see those exact changes happen. Guttenberg asked Sen. Rubio if he was planning to support a law that would get the first 200 guns banned then work up to the full list of assault weapons. Sen. Rubio then pointed to similar gun laws in New York and California claiming they have done nothing to stop the sale and use of these weapons and spoke about how people have found their ways around the laws.
Emma Gonzalez, the young woman who has sparked the movement, was on the stage and asked NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch her own questions.
“The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally,” Gonzalez started. “Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic weapons and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?”
Loesch answered Gonzalez’ question by discussing the mental state of the shooter and her position that people with that mentality should not have access to guns. Yet, Gonzalez was not satisfied with the answer she was giving.
“I think I’m gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually,” Gonzales interjected. “Do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?”
“I’m talking for them [the NRA]. These are the 5 million members that I’m here representing,” Loesch said. “That is what that group’s position has been on that. So, that answers your question, and they spoke about that before the president made a move and they spoke about that before Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an announcement about that, too.”
Twitter continued the conversation on social media using #StudentsStandUp.
We do not deserve these kids, but I thank God for them. #StudentsStandUp
— Pedro Pascal (@PedroPascal1) February 22, 2018
The students of the Parkland shooting have started a movement to call on politicians to create better gun laws that protect civilians called Never Again.
People are praising the efforts of the teenagers to exact change since the deadly shooting.
Damn. These kids are fearless.
And as unimpressive as I find Rubio lately, I give Marco credit for showing-up and facing a very tough room of thousands of mad-as-hell Floridians. Like others, he could have declined and made up scheduling conflicts. https://t.co/JSBEtNt8xJ
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) February 22, 2018
People were also giving Sen. Rubio credit for getting out there and facing the children and parents impacted by the shooting.
And many people who watched the town hall felt hopeful about the future.
This town hall was hopeful and empowering, yet at the same time frightening and INFURIATING!!! Say what you like. But these students make me feel a bright light for the future that I’ve never felt before. #StudentsStandUp
— Sarah Hyland (@Sarah_Hyland) February 22, 2018