Victim's Father Calls Rubio 'Pathetically Weak'

Senator, NRA spokeswoman jeered at an emotional town hall
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2018 4:15 AM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2018 6:11 AM CST

Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA national spokeswoman Dana Loesch encountered the raw emotion of school shooting survivors and the parents of victims at a town hall meeting in Sunrise, Fla., Wednesday night. In one of the most heated exchanges, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, told the senator his comments on guns have been "pathetically weak," the Guardian reports. "My daughter running down the hallway ... was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice. It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war," Guttenberg told Rubio after the senator said he doesn't support a ban on assault rifles. Other key moments:

  • NRA donations. Rubio was jeered by the crowd when, in response to a question from student Cameron Kasky, he refused to rule out accepting more donations from the NRA. "I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda," he said. Cameron asked: "In the name of the 17 people who died, you can't ask the NRA to keep their money? I bet we can get people to give you exactly as much money."

  • Sheriff vs. NRA. CNN, which hosted the town hall, reports that Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confronted Loesch after she told survivors of the shooting that she was fighting for them. "You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them," he said. "You're not standing up for them until you say, 'I want less weapons.'" He also told her: "I don't believe teachers should be armed, I believe teachers should teach."
  • "Insane monster." "I don't believe that this insane monster should ever have been able to obtain a firearm," Loesch said. "Ever. I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any weapon." Mediaite reports that she was heckled by numerous audience members, with one woman shouting, "You're a murderer!"
  • Concessions from Rubio. The senator told the crowd, estimated at 7,000, that he supports gun control measures such as raising the minimum age to buy guns to 21, bringing in universal background checks, and banning bump stocks, the Sun Sentinel reports. He also said he doesn't agree with President Trump about arming teachers.
  • Other speakers. Others at the meeting included Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch, CNN reports. It was reported that Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott turned down invitations to appear live or by video link.
  • A scream of fury. Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa died in the shooting, said it was time for action instead of talk. "Where are our metal detectors? Where is our bulletproof glass? Where are the school psychologists?" she asked. "And why hasn't anything been done since Sandy Hook? I don't want to see another parent lose their child in this senseless way." The Guardian reports that she finished with "a scream of pain and fury."
  • A poem and a song. To close the town hall, the father of murdered 14-year-old Alex Schachter read a poem his son had written called "Life Is Like a Roller Coaster." It can be seen in full here. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama club then sang "Shine," a song they wrote after last week's shooting. Their performance can be seen here.
(More Marco Rubio stories.)

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