CNN's powerful town hall on Wednesday, which followed last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was praised by many Americans for the civility, dialogue, and candor that our political conversations so often lack. Moderated by Jake Tapper, Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action provided a forum for students, parents, and faculty of the high school to direct their questions and concerns directly, and often with heart-wrenching emotion, to Florida Sens. Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. (President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declined to participate.)
After the broadcast, CNN's Athena Jones tweeted: "Minds have been opened tonight ... and politicians have been tested, by teenagers." One America News Network's Trey Yingst raved: "This is raw. This is authentic. This is dialogue." Writing here at The Week, Lili Loofbourow said: "[U]ncomfortable confrontations like these, in which there is no conversion or resolution or repentance on either side, are real and instructive. We need to see many more of them."
Watch 11 of the most powerful moments below.
1. "There is no representative of the state of Florida. Our governor did not come here, Gov. [Rick] Scott. But Marco did." -Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
2. "I mean, am I supposed to have a kevlar vest? Am I supposed to strap [a gun] to my leg or put it in my desk?" -Ashley Kurth, Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher who sheltered students in her classroom during the attack.
3. "An AK-47 and an AR-15 is not for hunting; it's for killing." -Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
4. "Your comments this week, and those of our president, have been pathetically weak." -Fred Guttenberg to Rubio. Guttenberg lost his 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, in the attack.
5. "Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?" –Cameron Kasky, student
6. "I don't believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever." -NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch
7. "You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You're not standing up for them until you say, 'I want less weapons.'" -Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch
8. "Life is like rollercoaster." -A poem by victim Alex Schachter, read by his father
9. "Why are my son's unalienable rights not protected as fiercely as the right to bear arms?" -Linda Schulman, the mother of Stoneman Douglas teacher Scott Beigel, who was killed protecting students
10. "When any organization spends tens of millions of dollars promoting the interests of gun corporations to influence what happens in our elections, then yes, our democracy is a little broken." -Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)
11. "You may have brought the dark, but together we will shine the light." -Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors