During a town hall hosted by CNN on Wednesday, the father of a 14-year-old girl gunned down by school shooter Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School faced off with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, calling the senator’s comments about the tragedy “pathetically weak.” Fred Guttenberg’s excoriation of Rubio was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the audience. Guttenberg’s daughter Jamie was one of 17 people killed in the massacre. Guttenberg’s comments were largely taking issue with Rubio’s stance that a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting wouldn’t deter future school shooters.
“You and I are now eye to eye,” Guttenberg said. “Because I want to like you, look at me and tell me that guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week… Look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns.”
In response, Rubio began to reiterate to the statements he had made in support of gun ownership while still noting his willingness to implement small measures that could, over time, limit gun sales. “The problems that we’re facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone,” said Rubio. But before he could finish, Guttenberg interrupted and plainly told the senator to just say whether he thought guns were the cause of his daughter’s death.
“Absolutely,” Rubio replied, “of course they were.”
While Rubio was willing to concede that guns played a role in Jamie Guttenberg’s death, he still didn’t change his stance on an assault weapons ban. The Florida senator did say that he doesn’t believe any 18-year-old should be able to buy a rifle and that he supports the president’s ban on bump stocks, a rifle accessory that enables shooters to convert semi-automatic guns into fully automatic guns.
“Senator Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at Marjory Douglas, was shot with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice,” said Guttenberg. “It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can stand here and can’t say that, I’m sorry.”