My Thoughts on CNN's Gun Violence Town Hall

Last month, CNN held a town hall with Florida's Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson along with Congressman Ted Deutch. Citizens from all over the state, including survivors and family members of survivors from the most recent school shooting that occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School, were in attendance as well along with a national spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA), Dana Loesch. The school shooting has motivated students from Parkland, along with students from other cities all over the world, to bring more light to the ongoing conversation about gun control and why both politicians and the NRA should push to strengthen laws and regulations on firearms.

Marco Rubio isn’t a stranger to getting his hypocrisy debunked in the public eye, nor is he a stranger to the NRA. Marco Rubio has an A-plus rating from the NRA, and has collected over $3 million worth of donations from them as well. $3,303,355 to be exact, which could explain why he’s going so far as to defend the right citizens to own deadly guns such as AR-15s in front of teenagers who have just lost the lives of friends and teachers, due to that very same gun, not even a week ago. During one point of the town hall meeting, a parent of one of the survivors stood up to Rubio, stating that his and Donald Trump's comments on the issue have been “pathetically weak” and demanded that he “do something about guns.” Even after multiple incidents where people stood up and spoke about how lazy politicians are when it comes to tackling gun violence, throughout the meeting, Rubio continued to prove that he’s more worried about his pockets than the lives of high school children who just want to go to school to receive an education. There was also a point where a survivor confronted Dana Loesch about the laws - or, the lack of laws - implemented to regulate who is able to even obtain an AR-15. 

I will say, the one thing that upset me the most while watching he town hall is that Rubio and the representatives of the NRA continuously used the fact that the survivors were teenagers to invalidate the points they made about their hypocrisy. I recall a point where Dana Loesch even brought up that she was “upset” about the way some people were reacting to the handling of the children, which threw me off considering she's one of those people who gaslighted the survivors feelings as she continued to side with NRA.

CNN’s town hall showed me that people are fed up about the way politicians are handling situations that have a great impact on the way citizens live their day to day lives, and are ready for a change in the way politicians react to situations like the one we saw last week in Parkland. Politicians like Rubio, who act oblivious to the gun control problems our country is currently facing, is one of the main factors why mass shootings happen at rapid rates here in America. Gun control debates aren't something that America isn't familiar with, but the survivors of the mass shooting that occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School are beginning to change the conversation in order to enact policies that would put a halt to the gun violence we experience.

An important moment that I took the most note of is when Rubio verbally agreed to never take money from the NRA in the future after he was confronted about it by a survivor. Even though I don't think that it was a convincing and genuine gesture (considering that he only agreed to it because someone asked him to in a spotlight), it's a huge political gesture for Rubio to make. It shows that these survivors really mean business, and could easily meet their goal if they, along with others, continued to stand up against politicians that are complicit to gun violence.

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