5 key moments as Florida school shooting survivors question senator
Following the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where a 19-year-old shot dead 17 people, Florida senator Marco Rubio took questions from victims’ parents, teachers and fellow students at a televised meeting.
Also answering questions at CNN’s Stand Up town hall was National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch, as well as Democrat representatives senator Bill Nelson and congressman Ted Deutch.
These are five of the stand out moments from the evening.
1. Rubio is against Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers
On the same day, President Trump had held an invite-only meeting at the White House with people affected by school shootings.
He said he was considering backing an idea to let teachers carry concealed weapons.
But during the town hall meeting, Rubio said he did not support the idea of arming teachers.
A teacher, Ashkey Kurth, who witnessed the shooting, said she was a Trump voter who supported the second amendment and asked Rubio if she should be trained and armed following the shooting.
“I don’t support that,” he told her.
“The notion that my kids (would be) going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that quite frankly I’m comfortable with.”
2. Rubio was confronted by a victim’s parent on gun control
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of the 17 killed on Valentine’s Day, stood up and told Rubio his statements on the incident “and those of your president this week have been pathetically weak”.
Both Trump and Florida’s Republican governor declined to attend the town hall meeting.
The grieving father told Rubio to acknoweldge that guns “were the factor in the hunting of our kids”.
The senator responded that mass school shootings could not “be solved by gun laws alone”.
3. The county sheriff encouraged the crowd to push for stricter gun laws
Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, where the mass shooting happened, told the young people caught up in the attack to press for gun control from their politicians, or not re-elect them.
“America’s watching you,” he said, “there will be change”.
He also challenged the NRA’s Dana Loesch, telling her she was not standing up for the victims as she claimed unless she advocated for fewer firearms.
4. Rubio said he was reconsidering his position on large capacity magazines
Just days after the shooting, lawmakers in Florida voted down the possibility of hearing a bill that would ban assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
Chris Grady, a student from the Stoneman Douglas High School who has recently enlisted in the army, asked the senator whether he would consider banning large capacity magazines that allowed shooters to fire more rounds than they would normally considering the gun’s size or design.
Rubio admitted that he had not been an advocate for changing the law in this area, but told Grady: “After this and some of the details I’ve learnt about it I’m reconsidering that position.”
5. One of the victim’s parents recited a poem his son wrote
Max Schachter read his son Alex’s poem Life Is Like A Roller Coaster.
“Eventually it comes to a stop. You won’t know when, or how, but you will know that it will be time to get off and start anew. Life is like a roller coaster,” he told the crowd.
The 14-year-old was a keen trombone player and baritone, and his family are starting a scholarship in his name.