ICYMI: A transcript of what the students said at last night’s town hall on gun violence

Last night, February 21st, CNN hosted a town hall meeting to discuss gun control reform in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting on February 14th. Parents of the victims, teachers, and students all asked questions to politicians and a spokesperson from the NRA. But the Parkland students’ statements resonated — loudly. Here’s what they had to say.

Ryan Deitsch, senior

Deitsch told Senator Marco Rubio that he had been participating in active shooter drills since elementary school, and that, in fifth grade, his school had once been put on lockdown for three hours. He questioned why students were responsible for leading reform.

"We would like to know why do we have to be the ones to do this?" Deitsch asked. "Why do we have to speak out to the (state) Capitol? Why do we have to march on Washington, just to save innocent lives?"

Cameron Kasky, junior

After requesting that the crowd not boo politicians based on parties, Kasky asked Rubio if he would stop taking NRA donations. Rubio responded to defend himself by saying that, as a politician, people pay to support his agenda. But Kasky continued to press the senator.

"In the name of the 17 people who died, you can't ask the NRA to keep their money?" he asked incredulously. "I bet we can get people to give you exactly as much money."

Rubio again avoided Kasky’s question.


Michelle Lapido, freshman

In a moving statement, Lapido said her school would rise above the tragic shooting.

"Stoneman Douglas is strong and will be heard because our kids and our staff did not die for nothing," she said. "They died for change and they died for each other. Their deaths will not be taken in vain but as a calling for the change, gun control and safety in America. They're watching us from heaven and we are going to save what they died to protect."

Emma Gonzalez, senior

Gonzalez, known for her powerful speech at a Parkland rally on February 17th, addressed NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch.