Survivors, grieving parents confront lawmakers, NRA at town hall meeting

Student survivors of the attack, as well as their teachers and parents faced off with Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch as well as NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.

By JTA
February 22, 2018 16:33
4 minute read.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky speaks to Senator Marco Rubio

Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky asks Senator Marco Rubio if he will continue to accept money from the NRA. (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAEL LAUGHLIN/POOL)

 
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The grieving parents of Jewish children killed in a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lashed out at lawmakers and firearm advocates during a town hall hosted by CNN.

Student survivors of the attack, as well as their teachers and parents faced off with Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch as well as NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch during the meeting on Wednesday evening, a week after former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, shot his way through the school’s halls using a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle.

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Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed in the attack, told Rubio that his comments over the last week about the shooting and the need for gun control are “Pathetically weak.”


“My daughter was hunted last week … She was massacred. My daughter, who was the energy in the room. She brought beauty and joy to everyone she was around,” Guttenberg said. “|I am enraged. I want to hear our elected officials, I want them to look me in the eye and acknowledge the role that guns played in the hunting of my daughter.”

“Look at me and tell me that guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. Look at me and tell me you accept it, and you will work with us to do something about guns,” Guttenberg said.

Lori Alhadeff, mother of 14-year-old victim Alyssa Alhadeff, also expressed her anger and frustration. “I am tired of people doing nothing. This horrific incident has to be the catalyst that finally puts things in action … Where are our metal detectors? Where is our bulletproof glass? … Where is the funding to protect the ones who will be the future of our nation?” she asked.


Stoneman Douglas junior Cameron Kasky forcefully confronted Rubio, calling on him to turn down campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. “Can you tell me you won’t be accepting a single penny from the NRA?” Kasky asked Rubio.



Rubio defended accepting support from the gun lobby. “The influence of these groups comes not from money,” he said. “The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda, the millions of Americans that support the NRA.”

“In the name of the 17 people who died, you can’t ask the NRA to keep their money?” Kasky continued pressing.


Linda Shulman, the mother of Scott Beigel, the teacher who was killed while ushering students to safety in a classroom, confronted NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, demanding to know: “Why are my son’s unalienable rights not protected as fiercely as the right to bear arms?”


Also during the town hall, Max Schachter, the father of slain 14-year-old Alex, read a poem about rollercoasters written by his son. “He wasn’t writing about his life and had no idea his poem would become the future,” he said.


At the end of the evening, the high school’s drama club performed an original song titled “Shine.” The song appears to be directed at the shooter: “You may have hurt us, but I promise we are not going to let you in. We’re putting up a fight. You may have brought the dark but together we will shine a light, and we will be something special. We’re going to shine, shine.”



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