With heavy hearts and a fierce determination to prevent the next school shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School came face-to-face with the National Rifle Association and Florida's two USA senators during a town hall Wednesday night, one week after a gunman massacred 17 people at their school. "Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school that week".
Both Nelson and Deutch said they supported a total ban on assault weapons.
Numerous students who survived last week's carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have called for new gun control laws, and they were in the audience to grill Rubio about his Second Amendment stance.
Student Cameron Kasky did not mince words telling Rubio, "It's hard to look at you and not look down the barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz" before asking squarely, "Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?".
"I believe that someone like this individual and anyone like him shouldn't have any gun", Rubio said.
The NRA, the nation's largest pro-gun organization, was represented by spokeswoman Dana Loesch who pointed the finger at lax reporting by states to a gun database system, the lack of a federally mandated standard, and missed "red flags" by law enforcement on potentially unsafe individuals. Rubio did not answer a student who asked if he would turn down future NRA donations. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. "CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night's town hall, nor have we ever".
Loesch referred to the shooter as "nuts" and an "insane monster" who she said shouldn't have been able to purchase a firearm. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other Democrats would ban a number of semi-automatic weapons, including the AR-15 - but not all of them.
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During a CNN town hall in Sunrise, Fla.
"Gun-free zone to a maniac, because they're all cowards, a gun-free zone is: "Let's go in and let's attack, because bullets aren't coming back at us", the president said.
Senator Rubio is not without compromise, saying he is breaking with the NRA in his support for raising the age requirement to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 years old and that he is reconsidering his support for large-capacity magazines.
Ryan Schachter, whose brother Alex, was fatally gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was among those questioning the lawmakers.
"It's not our job to tell you, Senator Rubio, how to protect us. I still want to know what can be done to keep the kids more safe in schools". And I do support the second amendment.
"People buy into my agenda", Rubio said, reciting an oft-used talking point. "That's why these discussions are important because they do lead you to rethink positions after you've taken new information and new input from people", he explained.
Loesch noted that the NRA supports banning bump stocks and promotes safety in schools with its National School Shield program that focuses on "improving school security in an effort to help prevent national tragedies at educational institutions in America".