YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN and CNN) – CNN hosted a nationally televised Town Hall meeting Wednesday with participants from Stoneman Douglas School, South Florida lawmakers and a spokesperson from the Nation Rifle Association.
Key moments from the discussion centered around gun control, mental health, and a perceived reluctance from lawmakers to make substantial change to the nation’s gun laws.
In a heated exchange with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Florida school shooting, and Sen. Marc Rubio, Guttenberg called Rubio’s comments immediately following the shooting “pathetically weak.”
“I want to like you. Here is the problem. Your comments this week and from our president have been pathetically weak. 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,” Guttenberg said.
Rubio replied, “let me repeat what I said last week,” to boos and moans from the audience. Rubio continued to be interrupted by jeers from the audience before Guttenberg said, “let him speak.”
“I am saying the problems we are facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone. And I am going to tell you what we’ve done already and we hope to do moving forward,” Rubio said before he was interrupted by Guttenberg who asked again, “Were guns the factor in the hunting of our kids? Can you say that?”
“Yes. I believe if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away,” Rubio said.
The Stoneman Douglas students and parents also confronted NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who said the organization feels the system for buying firearms is flawed and too many people who shouldn’t be able to buy guns are getting them through the cracks in the system.
“I don’t believe this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm – ever. I don’t think he should have gotten his hands on any kind of weapon. That’s number one…none of us from the organization that I am here representing support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves and others, getting their hands on a firearm,” Loesch said.
Loesch called for a federal system to report what she called “prohibited possessors” and those deemed mentally incompetent to own a firearm.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the crowd that there are three things that need to be done to “keep America safe.”
“Number one we have to use through crime prevention, through environmental design build schools differently so they’re harder to penetrate. Number two – we need to be empowering police officers and deputy sheriffs throughout the nation to be able to take people who are an immediate threat to themselves or an immediate threat someone else to be examined. And we need to take guns away from them forever. They should never get them back. They should have to go through a psychological evaluation and have a doctor or a clinician have to sign their John Hancock and say that person should be given back their Second Amendment right,” Israel said. “Lastly, we do need to have some gun control reform.”
Israel went on to say that he supports raising the age from 18 to 21 to be able to purchase a rifle and that bumpstocks should be “outlawed forever.”