PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she heard about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School not from her staff, but from her ninth-grade daughter.
She it was a tragedy that hit home for her and for that reason she called the town hall in Pembroke Pines Saturday for a discussion on how to prevent gun violence.
“I can’t think of a time when it was more important for us to come together as a community to talk about how we can make the kind of change that we need to keep people safe,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Spearheaded by Stoneman Douglas student activists, the town halls aim to keep the issue of gun violence at the forefront after hundreds of thousands of people marched last month in Washington and other cities, demanding stricter regulations on weapons.
Fred Guttenberg, who daughter Jamie was killed in the Parkland school shooting, was among the speakers. Guttenberg, who has become an outspoken advocate of stricter gun law since the shooting, urged the crowd to vote out the "weak-kneed" legislators who side with the National Rifle Association.
Organizers have planned more than 500 events thus far. Some like the one in Pembroke Pines featured the district's current member of Congress. Others were held without the member of Congress and instead feature the incumbent's opponents in the midterm elections.
Hundreds packed a forum in suburban Northern Virginia in the district of Republican Barbara Comstock. Comstock -- seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in November -- declined to attend, but Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, and two Democrats vying to replace her, Alison Freeman and Dan Helmer, did. The event in Sterling, Virginia, was organized by a Stoneman Douglas alumna.
Students also held a town hall in Janesville, Wisconsin -- the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Organizers left an empty seat for Ryan who declined to attend.
At one event in Salt Lake City, Utah, organizers brought cardboard cutouts of their elected representatives, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, who declined to attend.
"Make sure everyone there gets registered to vote and they remember the cardboard politicians they won’t be voting for," Stoneman Douglas student Matt Deitsch said on Twitter.
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