On Wednesday night in Sunrise, Florida, CNN hosted a town hall with students and teachers who survived last week’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, and those courageous students got a major vote of confidence from former first lady Michelle Obama.
The town hall was also attended by parents of students who lost their lives in the attack and lawmakers — like Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio — and an NRA spokesperson to discuss how the nation can better address gun control measures. The two-hour event was emotional at times and tense for Rubio, who withstood heavy criticism from some of the teenage students who just a week ago witnessed some of their fellow teens gunned down.
“I’m in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida. Like every movement for progress in our history, gun reform will take unyielding courage and endurance. But @barackobama and I believe in you, we’re proud of you, and we’re behind you every step of the way,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
I’m in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida. Like every movement for progress in our history, gun reform will take unyielding courage and endurance. But @barackobama and I believe in you, we’re proud of you, and we’re behind you every step of the way.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 22, 2018
The former first lady has advocated for reforms to the country’s gun control laws before. In a 2013 interview, Obama said, “We have millions of kids living in these kinds of circumstances who are doing everything right. And we, as a nation, have to embrace these kids and let them know that we hear them, and see them.” She added that lawmakers have an “obligation to these kids” to implement changes to federal gun laws.
The teenagers who spoke out at the town hall event were vocal about their strong desire for change and they demanded action from lawmakers. They also accused Rubio, who has accepted campaign funds from the NRA, of taking blood money. And students and teachers also grilled NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch about the organization’s efforts to thwart new gun control measures.
Below watch some highlights from the event.
Cameron Kasky, a student who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school, asked Marco Rubio if the senator will stop accepting campaign donations from the NRA. He won’t.
Emma Gonzalez questions Loesch whether she thinks it should be more difficult for people to purchase semi-automatic weapons and devices like “bump stocks” that modify a weapon to shoot like an automatic firearm.
Prior to the town hall event, President Donald Trump hosted a listening session at the White House with survivors of the school shooting. Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow Jade Pollack, was killed in the shooting, delivered a powerful and blunt message directly to Trump. “I’m here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week and she was taken from us,” Pollack said. “How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here with this administration.” Watch his full remarks below.