CNN did a Townhall last night with students asking questions about guns and gun control to various public figures including Senators.

The results were a bit a strange.

The whole event seemed more like an airing of grievances than legitimate questions.

One student said it was hard to look at Senator Rubio without picturing the shooter’s face killing his classmates, asked how talk show host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch sleeps at night, and accused anybody who has ever taken donations from the NRA of accepting blood money.

Another student tried to accuse Loesch of having blood on her hands, but mistakenly asked the question to Senator Nelson. Either way, I’m not sure what that was supposed to accomplish.

I do not always see eye to eye with Senator Rubio but I certainly respect the fact that he showed up to an event that was obviously going to be a hostile atmosphere for him. Ditto for Mrs. Loesch.

But emotions ran high and when that happens, you get the kind of spectacle we saw last night instead of a productive discussion.

The student who tried to make Marco Rubio pledge to never take another dollar from the NRA may have played well in that hall, but if you take ten seconds to think about it, what he asked for was ludicrous.

Despite the demonization, the NRA is not a pack of supervillains, they are merely a large group of citizens advocating for a cause they hold dear. As Rubio himself pointed out, the positions he holds now as a Senator are the same ones he held at the state and local level for years. The NRA donate money to him not because they are “buying” him, but because they agree with him strongly on the issue and want as many people as possible who represent pro-second amendment views.

This is not a mystery.

And the whole “in the pocket of the NRA” line of attack is nonsense, anyway. Marco Rubio raised $52 million in the 2016 election cycle. Less than $10,000 of that came from the NRA. And while Rubio has taken several million from them over the course of his career, considering that over $150 million was spent on his 2016 campaign alone, the NRA’s contributions are a tiny fraction of the money he took in and spent.

What people don’t realize or don’t care to understand is that the NRA’s power does not come from its money. It comes from its numbers.

The NRA has five million active members. So, when a politician does something that goes against the NRA’s mission, that’s an angry voting block of five million people. Not to mention the 42% of U.S. households who own guns.

And when you look at what is going on right now, it is easy to understand why they are being so vigilant.

Today, there is a call to ban AR-15 style rifles. That ban was in effect from 1994–2004 and effectively did nothing. But even so, a weapon of that nature has been used in a few school shootings, so people say “well, if it saves one life.”

But what happens when AR-15s are banned and there is no marked change in gun deaths or the amount of school shootings?

After all, the Virginia Tech shooting was committed with handguns.

How long before we hear calls to ban certain handguns?

And then when that doesn’t work, they will come back for more.

Until there is nothing left to come back for anymore.

I am a father of four children and I run a school filled with eager young minds. I am horrified by what happened in Parkland, Florida, and I cannot even imagine the grief these children and their families are going through, not to mention the families of the children who didn’t make it.

But the truth is, we are lying to ourselves if we think yelling about the NRA and pushing gun restrictions that would never have stopped this shooting provides any sort of solution.

There are things we can do on the margins. I don’t like the idea of specifically training teachers to be armed, but I certainly think allowing teachers who are licensed to conceal carry to bring their firearms to school is an idea worth discussing. Likewise, metal detectors and armed guards could be worth talking about.

But talking about the “gunshow loophole” — which does not actually exist — when none of these killers bought their guns at gun shows does nothing. Talking about “universal background checks” when all of these shooters either passed background checks or obtained their guns illegally does nothing. Crowing about banning “assault rifles” — a term made up to describe scary looking guns that are in reality no different than any other semi-automatic weapon — when we have evidence it doesn’t work, does nothing.

And talking about any kind of gun ban is not only unconstitutional and tyrannical, but more importantly, it’s impossible. There are 300 million legal guns in the United States. Good luck taking them all away.

So, while dialogue on an issue like this is good, the discussion needs to center on realistic proposals that might actually help rather than emotionally charged rally cries that are empty gestures meant to make us feel like we are doing something.

On a national stage last night, CNN produced an event that was much more of the latter than the former, which seems like a huge missed opportunity.

And that is a real shame.

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