Republican Senator Marco Rubio and National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch were grilled on gun rights at an arena of 7,000 grieving Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, alumni, and parents on Wednesday for CNN’s Town Hall event.
The crowd angrily booed Rubi and Loesch all night. The event took place in Broward County, one of the bluest counties in the country. Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump here 66%-31%.
CNN also hosted Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Ted Deutch, and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. All three are Democrats.
Rubio, who was asked tough questions from grieving fathers and mothers, endorsed raising the age to purchase a rifle to 21, opposed arming teachers, and expressed openness to banning high-capacity magazines.
In one key moment of the debate, Senator Rubio defended his opposition to a so-called “assault” weapons ban.
Rubio scores an own goal when he says the assault weapons ban “would literally ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America” and the crowd erupts in cheers pic.twitter.com/VfIqxCloyo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 22, 2018
The CNN Town Hall crowd goes crazy cheering in support of banning every semi-automatic gun in America. That would make the vast majority of guns illegal. #StudentsStandUp
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) February 22, 2018
This is apparently the point at which journalists watching the event start to convince themselves that this crowd is reflective of the average American voter and that Rubio’s positions are broadly unpopular in Florida and beyond. https://t.co/T3QrV8oX8f
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 22, 2018
In another big moment, talk show host Dana Loesch invoked the story of Kimberly Corban, which surprisingly drew boos from the crowd.
Video: @DLoesch references the awful story of @Kimberly_Corban while she was a young woman too and how she wishes she was able to have been in possession of a firearm. And, as expected, Kimberly’s story was viciously booed and heckled. #CNNTownhall #StudentsStandUp pic.twitter.com/rQ0MKsP6wh
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) February 22, 2018
Booing a rape victim, wow. https://t.co/4seN47Hbxs
— Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) February 22, 2018
The biggest story of the night was when Dana Loesch grilled Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who supports gun control, about the indisputable fact that “Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the family home of shooter Nikolas Cruz 39 times since 2010.”
Dana Loesch rips Sheriff Scott Israel during the CNN Town Hall for missing tons of red flags on the school shooter, including 39 calls to his home.
Isreal said she was wrong and asked where she got her facts.
— Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) February 22, 2018
Dana Loesch is the first person I’ve seen actually press Sheriff Israel on his department’s utter failure in this case
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) February 22, 2018
Sheriff on CNN’s town hall just called it fake news that law enforcement made 39 visits to the shooter’s home. That number has been reported by, among other outlets, CNN. No fact-check from Tapper.
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) February 22, 2018
Kudos to Rubio and Loesch for being brave enough to answer tough questions from a pro-gun control, grieving community.