In a CNN debate, the articulate survivors of the Florida shooting left senator Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch flailing
On Wednesday night, an emotionally raw and passionate CNN town hall discussion was held in Florida, where students grilled politicians, lawmakers, and the NRA about exactly what they were going to do to combat gun violence.
The meeting was held following last week’s mass school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Since then, students and survivors have quickly taken centre-stage in a renewed argument for more gun control in America. Students have taken part in a mass walk-out from schools across the US, and a staged die-in outside the White House.
In a shockingly bad display on Wednesday, Republican senator Marco Rubio found himself continually backed into a corner when he was cross-examined by the furious crowd of students and survivors. The former presidential candidate, who took donations from the NRA during his campaign, said that he agreed with the raising of the age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21; that he supported the potential for family members or law enforcement to petition a court to remove a firearm from a potentially dangerous individual; and that he didn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks about the possibility of arming teachers.
Most incredible, perhaps, was watching Rubio’s spectacular political own goal. While explaining the loopholes in the current proposed ban on assault rifles, Rubio said, “You would literally have to ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America.” He was then cut off by cheers from the audience, before being acknowledging what he had just said. “Fair enough, fair enough,” he said. “That is a valid position to hold.” Disappointingly, when Rubio put a proposed ban on all assault rifles to Democratic congressman Ted Deutch, he circled the question, refusing to give a concrete answer.
Also in attendance was Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a survivor from the shooting, whose powerful speech directed at Donald Trump went viral last week. Gonzalez took on the NRA’s Dana Loesch, who gave vague answers to the 17-year-old’s questions about what the NRA’s position was on weapon modifications and whether it should be harder to purchase weapons. Loesch, who was booed throughout, continually tried to blame law enforcement and social services for not acting quickly enough in the case of the Parkland shooting.
Despite discussions and impassioned questions from those affected by the shooting last week, the debate seemed not to leave anyone with conclusive answers about what would be done. Rubio refused to say that he wouldn’t accept donations from the NRA in the future, citing his belief in the second amendment. While those asking the questions appeared to be leading the discussion, the safety of students against this happening again was still left hanging in the end.
If you’re not in America but you’re still wondering what you can do to get involved in the fight, here are some things you can do to help gun control.