An NRA spokeswoman and a Florida sheriff clashed during a raucous discussion on gun violence

  • Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, took some pointed questions during a raucous CNN town-hall event on gun violence Wednesday night.
  • The gathering featured students, educators, politicians, law-enforcement officials, and others who spoke on the deadly mass shooting in Florida last week and possible solutions going forward.
  • The discussion went off the rails at several points, especially during a segment that featured Loesch and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who confronted the NRA spokeswoman onstage.

A National Rifle Association spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, took some heat at a town-hall event on gun violence Wednesday night that featured impassioned dialogue from students, parents, educators, and politicians.

The discussion at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, had been heated from the start, but it seemed to hit a fever pitch once Loesch argued on behalf of the NRA.

Emma Gonzalez, one of the most vocal survivors of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, asked Loesch whether she thought it should be more difficult for people to obtain semiautomatic weapons and modifications like bump stocks that can allow guns to mimic fully automatic weapons.

“I don’t believe that this insane monster should have ever been able to obtain a firearm, ever,” Loesch said of Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old charged in the shooting. “I do not think that he should have gotten his hands on any kind of weapon.”

“This individual was nuts, and I – nor the millions of people that I represent as a part of this organisation that I’m here speaking for – none of us support people who are crazy, who are a danger to themselves, who are a danger to others, getting their hands on a firearm,” Loesch said.

The NRA spokeswoman insisted that she was fighting for survivors like Gonzalez so they wouldn’t have to “be in this position again.”

That comment did not sit well with some of the attendees, including Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who challenged Loesch on the assertion. “You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons,'” Israel said to raucous cheering and applause.

Loesch and Israel sparred over the role of law enforcement in identifying signs that people may be a danger to themselves or others, with Israel saying officials “need the power to take people out of their homes” under Florida state law to receive evaluation and help if their behaviours indicate they may pose a threat.

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