In the week following the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we’ve watched the survivors and the Parkland community come together to demand real change. Students like Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and Cameron Kasky have proven many times that they will not be silenced.
It’s truly inspiring that these survivors — teens who have one week of experience as political activists — can hold their own in heated conversations with seasoned politicians. Think about that. They’re not afraid to ask the questions that we really want to be answered. And more importantly, they’re not afraid to steer a conversation back on track to demand an answer.
Their determination was on display in full force at the CNN town hall in Sunrise, Florida on Wednesday, February 21st. Survivors and families of the victims spoke with Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Ted Deutch, and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. One of the standout moments of the night was when 17-year-old survivor Cameron Kasky bluntly asked Senator Rubio about accepting future donations from the NRA.
“Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?” Kasky asked. Before he could even finish his question, the room erupted into applause. What followed was an exchange where Senator Rubio continually dodged the question. But Kasky was prepared and didn’t back down.
“The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda,” Senator Rubio started. “And I do support the Second Amendment. And I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe. And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that’s why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for.”
But Cameron Kasky wasn’t having it. He interrupted Senator Rubio, asking, “No more NRA money? More NRA money?”
“The answer is, people buy into my agenda,” Senator Rubio continued, still dodging the question. “The influence of these groups comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda.”
Kasky tried again. “Right now, in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?”
And again, Senator Rubio’s response was indirect. “I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this from getting a gun.”
Frustrated, Kasky half-jokingly proposed a fundraising solution.
If Rubio is really taking money from the NRA just for the financial support, why not raise it elsewhere? “No, but I’m talking NRA money. Matter of fact, I bet we can get people in here to give you exactly as much money as the NRA would have.”
“You’re right about that. There’s money on both sides of every issue in America. And where that leaves us in policymaking is to look at the issues and make a decision based on what we think is right,” Senator Rubio continued. “The First Amendment is as important as the Second. And therefore, you have every right to ask that question of me, and I’m here to tell you that I will stand for the things—”
Cameron Kasky interrupted and made one final attempt to get Senator Rubio to answer his simple yes or no question.
“Ok, I’ll ask again. Are you going to be accepting money from the NRA in the future?”
Finally, Senator Rubio delivered the closest thing we’d get to an answer. “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda,” he said.
“Ok, so I knew that was gonna happen,” Kasky told the room. “NRA, please just keep the money out of Rubio, okay?”
Watch Cameron Kasky question Marco Rubio below.
It’s truly inspiring to see the next generation take the lead on important issues with such courage.