CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) - A district town hall in Coral Springs aimed at discussing gun violence took on an added urgency in the wake of the shooting at the YouTube headquarters in California.
The West Coast incident was on the minds of audience members who filled the Coral Springs Center of the Arts to capacity, Tuesday night, to attend the forum, which was hosted by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.
Less than two months after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the lawmaker said the time is now to pass gun reform legislation.
“This is straightforward. It is common sense,” said Deutch. “Universal background checks can help save lives.”
By the time the event got underway, attendees had already heard of the shooting in San Bruno, California, which authorities are investigating as a domestic dispute.
Deutch took to social media to speak out on the incident that, police said, sent three people to the hospital and led the suspected shooter to take her own life. He tweeted, “Watching video from yet another shooting scene while on my way to tonight’s town hall meeting ON GUN VIOLENCE. This has to stop.”
Stoneman Douglas students and supporters, many of whom dressed in school colors, with messages alluding to the 17 killed in the Feb. 14 massacre, packed the auditorium and listened to Deutch make a case for gun reform.
Even though what happened in San Bruno was very different from what unfolded in Parkland, attendees told 7News they couldn’t help but make a connection.
“It’s just crazy to think that within this short span of time, something like this might happen again, and across the nation,” said MSD graduate Dylan Baierlein.
Rebecca Ammirata, whose siblings attend Stoneman Douglas, was dismayed to hear about the shooting in California. “A notification came on [my father’s] watch that said, ‘Shots fired in California near the YouTube headquarters,’ so I was like, ‘OK, here we go again,'” she said.
Ammirata’s father, Sergio Ammirata, said familiar feelings of helplessness and despair came rushing back as soon as he heard the news. “When it happened, I felt the same feeling of not knowing how many were dead. All the family, all the relatives who didn’t know what was happening,” he said. “It was all that anguish that came back.”
As people walked out of the town hall, about a dozen gun supporters holding signs engaged in heated arguments with some audience members.
“What are you going to do when you’re gone? The Second Amendment — it’s not going to be here,” a woman yelled at a demonstrator chanting “Constitution” over and over.
That protester was holding up a sign that read, “Democrats wanna ban licensed guns LEGALLY … so criminals can kill with guns they got illegally.”
Those demonstrators left the venue peacefully.
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