It was easy enough for Senator Marco Rubio, the only Republican elected official with the cajones to show up for the CNN anti-gun rally Wednesday night, to shine. The CNN prime-time event was labeled “The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” and featured Rubio, along with Democrats Senator Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch as the panel of politicians.  CNN show host Jake Tapper served as moderator.

The we-hate-the-NRA crowd has clearly set their sights on blaming Senator Rubio for the mass murder at Stoneman Douglas High. His crime is taking donations from the NRA. The high school students and families and teachers were itching to show Rubio their disdain.  During Deutch’s opening remarks, he included the rote statement, “They (the students) don’t want thoughts and prayers. They want action.” as he looked at Rubio. Nelson went right for the left’s only real idea – to ban all “assault” weapons. Rubio was the only one to acknowledge the real problem, which is the complete inability of both sides of the political aisle to come together and work on real solutions together. He said we are a  nation of people who no longer talk to each other, only watch television that agrees with our own opinions and even stop being friends with people over who they voted for in the last election.

The first question for Rubio was from a father who lost a child in the school shooting. He began by saying he “really wants to like” him but that Rubio’s comments last week about the shootings were “pathetically weak.” So Rubio offered to repeat what he said and why but the crowd was having none of that. The man demanded that Rubio “do something” about guns.

Rubio made news on three points. He said that he has been listening to everyone over the last week and is now open to supporting making the legal age 21 years old to purchase a rifle, same as handguns.

He’s open to outlawing large capacity magazines. A student who has enlisted in the military asked about them.

 

A teacher who said she’s Republican and voted for Trump asked if he supports arming teachers. He said he doesn’t support the idea of arming school teachers.

The audience was brutally partisan. The adults were as dreadful as the children. One punk, er, grieving student demanded Rubio stop taking contributions from the NRA. Rubio said he’d take a hard pass on that. The kid is a regular on CNN these days. You may recognize him. His name is Cameron Kasky.

Jake Tapper did as good of a job as moderator as he could. He tried to bring a little balance to the ganging up on Rubio when he was able. He even asked the two Democrats why no new gun laws were passed when Democrats controlled all three branches for two years of the Obama administration. The audience responded with complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. No whooping or hollering to be heard.

It’s easy to see why Republicans knew not to attend but I’m thankful that Rubio manned up and showed up. At least he tried to explain conservative arguments amidst a sea of loud and ugly gun-grabbers.