On Wednesday, Feb. 21, CNN will air its nationally televised town hall "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action." Students, parents, community members, and others who were affected by the Feb. 14 shooting which left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will participate in the broadcast. However, some of the people you'd probably expect to participate, aren't. If you're wondering who is at the Parkland survivors' town hall, here's who you can expect to see.
"Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action," was created out of the increasing calls for gun reform following the Parkland shooting. According to CNN, the event will air live from the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL on Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. ET. The network's Jake Tapper will moderate the broadcast.
In addition to student activists like Kevin Trejos, Ryan Deitsch, Chris Grady Emma Gonzalez, and Alfonso Calderon, the town hall will include the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Dana Loesch; both U.S. senators for Florida, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio; Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida; and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, according to the network.
However, there will be some notable names missing, as President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott declined invitations to participate, according to CNN.
President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott aren't attending.
According to a spokesperson for Scott, the politician won't be attending because he'll be in meetings to find other "ways to keep Florida students safe." The spokesperson told CNN, "With only two weeks left of our annual legislative session, Governor Rick Scott will be in Tallahassee meeting with state leaders to work on ways to keep Florida students safe, including school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness." The statement honestly has me scratching my head, seeing how the Florida House voted down a motion to ban assault rifles in a whopping 36 to 71 vote just a day ago.
When it comes to Trump's whereabouts, CBS News reported that he would be hosting a listening session with parents, students and teachers that have been affected by the Parkland shooting and other gun-related tragedies. The session was held at the White House at 4:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday afternoon and featured accounts of parents that were affected by the Sandy Hooks and Columbine shootings, as well as several students from Parkland. However, several of the student survivors who have been most vocal about gun control reform since the shooting, such as Emma Gonzalez, Alex Wind, and David Hogg, were not on the attendance list.
But some of those who are attending the town hall are controversial.
On the other hand, there are some people who aren't happy about who's attending the town hall — one of those people being NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. Loesch is a longtime gun rights advocate who often feuds with others on Twitter over gun laws, and has even attacked the media and members of other social organizations like the Women's March, according to The Guardian. To some, Loesch, who has been called a "vicious, dishonest and radicalized NRA lobbyist," just doesn't seem like a good pick for tonight's broadcast when it's such a sensitive time and topic.
Twitter users aired out similar criticisms.
I just don't know how to feel about Loesch given her history, but I guess we'll just have to see what happens.
The shooting has had a massive impact on the country.
Since the Parkland shooting happened, students from the school have banded together to call for tougher gun laws across the country, and created the hashtag #NeverAgain to mark their hope that their tragedy will be the last school shooting to happen in our country. On Feb. 18, student Cameron Kasky announced the March For Our Lives, scheduled for March 24 in Washington D.C., to demand that Congress create stricter gun legislation. Already, similar marches have taken place across Florida in cities like Tallahassee, Tampa and Parkland, itself.
Regardless of who is or isn't attending tonight's town hall, let's remember the massive impact and support of the calls for gun reform that we've seen so far. Something good has to come from that. I hope so.