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One week after the devastating Parkland school shooting tragedy, hundreds gathered in the BB&T Center for a town hall centered around one message: Never Again.
The Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action town hall hosted by CNN began at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
On one side of the stage: Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch. On the other side, among others, students who survived the shooting, parents of children who were killed and members of the NRA.
“The folks in our community don’t want words. They don’t want thoughts and prayers. They don’t want discussions. They want action. And we owe it to them to provide it,” Deutch said during opening remarks.
The first to speak on stage was Ryan Schachter. His younger brother, Alex, was fatally shot in the tragedy.
Schachter said he is supposed to go back to school next week.
“My friends and I are worried that we are going to be murdered in our classrooms. What reassurances can you give me and what specifically are you going to do to make sure we don’t have this fear?” Schachter asked.
“As a starter, next week when we go back to Washington, we’re going to introduce legislation to make sure that assault weapons are illegal in every part of this country,” Deutch said. “But that’s not … going to help you when you go back to school.”
Rubio spoke second. Fred Guttenberg’s daughter was shot dead. Guttenberg told Rubio directly: “Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak.”
Rubio shared his condolences and began commenting on gun reform.
“I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away,” Rubio said.
However, Rubio suggested passing a current assault rifle ban bill would not be effective because more than 2,000 weapons similar to ones used in U.S. mass shootings would remain available.