Marco Rubio might have been praised just for showing up Wednesday night to face questions from the Florida community shattered by last week’s school shooting, but nobody was letting the Republican senator off the hook for his record and rhetoric on gun laws.
Rubio took the stage alongside Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch, and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, before a crowd of some 7,000 for CNN’s Town Hall a week after a teen gunman killed 17 people and injured about 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Attendees included student survivors, parents and friends of those who died, many of whom have stepped into the national spotlight calling for an overhaul of gun laws and inspiring other student-run marches, sit-ins and walkouts in solidarity.
Rubio, who'd claimed Monday in a gun control debate that "someone who has decided to commit this crime, they will find a way to get the gun," was repeatedly booed and cut off at the town hall.
Here are all the times Rubio, a longtime opponent of stricter gun laws, was called out by the audience:
--Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was gunned down in the massacre, told the senator: “I want to like you. Here's the problem: Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak. Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in the school this week.”
--One Stoneman Douglas student asked why it was left to students to push for a change in the laws. “We would like to know why do we have to be the ones to do this? Why do we have to speak out to the [state] Capitol? Why do we have to march on Washington, just to save innocent lives?" Ryan Deitsch asked.
--Responding to repeated calls for a ban on assault rifles, Rubio tried to score a rhetorical point by saying: "You would literally have to ban every semi-automatic rifle…." But, before he could finish his sentence, Rubio was cut off by huge cheers from the audience. “Fair enough, fair enough,” Rubio said. “That is a valid position to hold.”
--Cameron Kasky, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, asked Rubio to say he would no longer accept donations from one of his biggest backers. “So, Senator Rubio, can you tell me you won’t be accepting a single penny from the NRA?” When the senator wavered, Kasky pushed again. “So you won’t take more NRA money?” And when Rubio said “that’s the wrong way to look at it,” Kasky came back again: “In the name of the 17 people who died, you can’t ask the NRA to keep their money?” adding, “I bet we can get people to give you exactly as much money.”