There was a moment in the Town Hall Meeting, played out on CNN last Wednesday night, when a junior from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida asked Senator Marco Rubio if he would go on record saying that he would not accept any more campaign money from the National Rifle Association. It was a moment among many in a nearly two hour confrontation between student survivors and representatives of the establishment status quo. It should be pointed out that by showing up at this event as a Republican, Senator Rubio was the lone representative of his party while Florida governor Rick Scott and the "President" either declined or ignored their invitation. This did mean that Mister Rubio stood on the stage and took the brunt of the anguish and fury of a crowd that has had enough.
Did he cave? No. He did not. To his credit, under duress, he made a very interesting point: “U.S. politics is only aspect of our lives where changing your mind is a bad thing.” A pretty terrifying notion when the call comes down to the captain that there is an iceberg squarely in front of the ocean liner and the captain screams "Full speed ahead!" Slowing down or changing course is waffling. It's wimpy. The fact that he was unable to say that he would cut off funding from the NRA was no real surprise, but the moment when he said that he would consider legislation limiting magazine size and that he believes the age limit for buying rifles should be raised from eighteen to twenty-one was applauded and cheered by those in attendance.
Those in attendance were community members, families, faculty and students of the high school where just a week before there was yet another deadly school shooting. These were the #neveragain crowd, who were using their moment to cry out against the senseless killing of children in a place where nothing like that should ever happen. They want to be the last auditorium full of devastated individuals who cannot understand how something like this could happen. How long can this go on?
And then there was the sheriff. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel responded to the NRA representative who was there to show compassion by repeating talking points: “An 18-year-old kid should not have a rifle...They're in high school. These kids should not have a rifle. Bump stocks should be illegal. They should be outlawed forever. Automatic rifles should be outlawed forever. And anybody who says different, I don't know about other people, but Emma and I, we're calling BS on that.” And with that, he returned the focus of the meeting to Emma Gonzalez, whose impassioned words in the days after the tragedy have given hope and strength to a community that has seen enough. Heard enough. Had enough.
Good for them.