CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – On the same day a woman walked into the YouTube headquarters in Northern California and opened fire, Congressman Ted Deutch hosted a town hall meeting on gun violence here in South Florida.
Deutch’s district includes the city of Parkland where a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
Following the March For Our Lives Rally, student activists from the school called on members of Congress to host town hall meetings on gun violence.
Tuesday’s town hall meeting was filled with cheers and standing ovations. It was filled with tough talk from the families of victims of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“We need to break the back of the gun lobby that has a grip on our legislators,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, died in the attack.
It was also filled with heavy emotion, as evidenced by the shaky voice of Deutch as he read the names of the shooting victims.
Questions filled the meeting, like this one from a student:
“What are you guys doing so I am safe everywhere?”
The answers came from a myriad of panelists who described local, state and national efforts to confront the gun control, mental health and school safety issues.
Hundreds of people packed the Coral Springs Center for the Arts demanding answers on how signs were missed on the Stoneman Douglas shooter and what types of gun control efforts might be put in place.
Guttenberg also praised the student survivors who’ve led the charge for gun control.
“You are fierce,” he said. “You believe what you want. You say what you want and you don’t care what anyone says back.”
Max Schacter, whose son Alex died in the shootings, promised to fight for transparency.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of everything that happened here,” Schacter. “We are gonna hold our officials accountable. We are going to hold the agencies accountable.”
Debbie Hixon, wife of victim Christopher Hixon, demanded an assault weapons ban.
“We do have to ban assault weapons,” she said. “It’s not about the Second Amendment. It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Outside a small group of gun rights supporters attracted attention from the crowd of mostly gun control advocates. One gun rights supporter shouted, “I have the right to protect myself!”
A Stoneman Douglas student shouted back: “You want to protect metal. I want to protect a life.”
Back inside, Deutch focused on efforts underway in Congress to increase the minimum age to buy a gun, implement a gun restraining order and tighten background checks.
“It is an idea that has support of over 90 percent of American people,” he said.
On that point, Deutch challenged the audience to tweet House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on the issue. Plenty of them did.
“Tweet at him and respectfully tell him that we’re the 90 percent of the people who want universal background checks,” Deutsch said. “Bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Because of the large turnout and the volume of questions, Representative Deutch promised to hold another of these town halls next month.