Your words have been 'pathetically weak': Marco Rubio gets an earful at CNN town hall on Parkland shooting

  • The father of a Parkland school shooting victim criticized Rep. Sen. Marco Rubio during a CNN town-hall event.
  • Rubio appeared to agree with the idea of enacting new gun measures, including raising the age limit to purchase AR-15-style rifles.
  • But he stopped short of supporting a ban on assault-style weapons.


The father of a victim of the Parkland school shooting criticized Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida during a CNN town-hall event on Wednesday.

Fred Guttenberg's 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was one of the 17 people killed in the deadly February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

"I just listened to your opening, and thank you. I want to like you," Guttenberg said after Rubio gave his opening remarks. "Here's the problem — and I'm a brutally honest person so I'm just going to say it up front. When I like you, you know it, and when I'm pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak."

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CNN holds town hall with students, politicians after Florida school shooting
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CNN holds town hall with students, politicians after Florida school shooting
National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch (R) answers a question while sitting next to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez comforts a classmate during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel (L) makes a point to NRA Spokesperson Dana Loesch during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez wipes away tears during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Parent Fred Guttenberg watches a monitor honoring the 17 students and teachers who were killed at Douglas High School, during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool Guttenberg lost his daughter Jamie in the attack on Valentines day.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky (L) asks Senator Marco Rubio if he will continue to accept money from the NRA during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Adults watch a monitor honoring the 17 people killed at Douglas High School during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Adults watch a monitor honoring the 17 students and teachers killed at Douglas High School during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Fred Guttenberg asks Marco Rubio a question during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. Guttenberg lost his daughter Jamie in the Douglas High School shooting. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students cheer during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Senator Bill Nelson asks for assault rifles to be removed from the streets during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
CNN's Jake Tapper listens to Senator Marco Rubio during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Senator Marco Rubio (L) and Congressman Ted Deutch disagree during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Senator Marco Rubio, (L), explains his position during a CNN town hall meeting, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and parents wait for a CNN town hall meeting to begin, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students listen to sheriff Scott Israel speak before a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks before the start of a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and parents wait for a CNN town hall meeting to begin, at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie speaks before a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie speaks before a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are recognized before a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, U.S. February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Laughlin/Pool
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"You and I are now eye-to-eye. Cause I want to like you," Guttenberg continued. "Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week, and look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns."

Rubio's next words were met with boos from the crowd.

"The problems that we are facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone," Rubio said.

"Were guns the factor in the hunting of our kids?" Guttenberg said.

"Of course they were," Rubio replied. "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."

"Fantastic," Guttenberg said approvingly.

What Rubio can — and can't — support

Rubio then appeared to hint he could support some new restrictions on guns, including banning bump stocks, a device that can be added to a semi-automatic weapon to make it fire more rapidly. President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to propose a ban on the devices, but many think a solution would need to come from Congress.

"I will support the banning of bump stocks," Rubio said. "I will support changing our background system so that it includes more information than it includes now, and that all states across the country are required or incentivized to report all the information into it."

Rubio also said he would support raising the age limit to buy a rifle. But he wavered on what Guttenberg appeared to be trying to push him to support — a ban on assault-style weapons.

"If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it," Rubio said amid shouts from the crowd. "But I want to explain to you why it would not."

"My daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back with an assault weapon," Guttenberg said. "The weapon of choice. OK? It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that? I'm sorry."

Rubio appeared to agree with the danger that assault-style weapons posed and gave a few examples of problems with a proposed assault weapons ban, such as a wide range of other guns that would be banned due to the language of the bill.

"My belief remains, that rather than continue to try to chase every loophole that's created ... is we instead should make sure that dangerous criminals, people that are deranged cannot buy any gun of any kind," Rubio said.

"Your answer speaks for itself," Guttenberg said.

At least 17 people were killed after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15-style weapon to gun down students and teachers at the high school. The Florida state legislature voted 71-36 to reject a measure to consider banning the sale of assault weapons on Tuesday.

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SEE ALSO: 'I am enraged': Father of Parkland shooting victim blasts the listening session Trump held with mass-shooting survivors

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