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Parkland Mayor On Meeting With Trump

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Last night, Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed at a Florida high school on Valentine's Day, was at a town hall. He confronted his senator, Republican Marco Rubio, who was talking about gun policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: I'm saying that the problems that we're facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone. And I'm going to tell you what we've done already, and what I hope we'll do moving forward.

FRED GUTTENBERG: Were guns the factor...

RUBIO: Absolutely.

GUTTENBERG: ...In the hunting of our kids?

RUBIO: Of course they were.

GREENE: That exchange came during a CNN town hall. Many survivors of the massacre in Parkland, Fla., and their families spent yesterday talking with political leaders. Students also met with lawmakers in Florida's capitol. Some sat down with President Trump at the White House. Parkland, Fla., Mayor Christine Hunschofsky was at that meeting with the president and joins me now. Mayor, welcome.

CHRISTINE HUNSCHOFSKY: Good morning.

GREENE: I just have been struggling to listen to some of these parents all morning and what they were saying yesterday. Parents, students - it sounds like there is still so much pain in your community. Can you just tell us how people are doing in Parkland?

HUNSCHOFSKY: Yes. The whole community is grieving. We lost 17 lives from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community, and for the last week, we've been going to memorials, to funerals. And we live in such a wonderful, close-knit community in Parkland, very family-oriented. Most people have been somehow affected or knew someone. So it really hits home for our residents and makes it very tough. So we're definitely going through a grieving process, and it's going to be a long process. The good news is - if there is good news in this - because we have such a tight-knit, bonded community, we'll get through this together.

GREENE: I know at the White House yesterday one of your many difficult jobs was to read statements from two fathers who lost their kids in the shooting. What can you tell us about the message you think they had for the president? What did they want President Trump to know?

HUNSCHOFSKY: Tony Montalto and Jen Montalto, the first ones I read about, and their comments, they just want solutions. They just want something to be done. Their mention was they support the Second Amendment but that they didn't feel there was a need for assault weapons as part of that. And Fred Guttenberg, you heard him so eloquently last night speak on his own, he wanted it acknowledged that guns are part of the debate.

GREENE: I want to just play a clip from the end of that White House meeting, if we could listen together.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If you have any feelings as to what we should do - because there are many different ideas. Some, I guess, are good. Some aren't good.

GREENE: So listening there to President Trump, I mean, did you leave that meeting feeling like the president has a plan?

HUNSCHOFSKY: I left that meeting feeling like the president wants to take action, and there seems to be a resolve. Vice President Pence was also there. He seemed resolved. I think we're just really now at a point where people of all parties and of all areas of the country just want to see some action and some solutions. So many times, people get so caught up in their own ideals and beliefs, and we forget about what we really need to focus on, and that's to make sure that something like this never happens again. The listening session was nice and productive in the sense that there were many different opinions there, there were many different viewpoints. And they were all presented in a respectful way with the goal of coming up with a solution.

GREENE: What might the solution look like? Or, do you see a solution coming together? I mean, I know after this meeting you mentioned the positive impact of banning assault-style weapons. President Trump talked about maybe arming teachers. He also talked about being open to different age restrictions, maybe raising the minimum age to purchase different kinds of weapons. As you listen to all of these ideas, do you feel there might be a coming together of the minds, somewhere?

HUNSCHOFSKY: I think there will be a coming together of the minds somewhere. And, listen, there are so many things that could be done to take steps toward preventing this from happening again. So there are so many little things that can be done. And what I've noticed - so in our own Florida capitol, we have Senator Bill Galvano, who's already proposing changes that one would never have thought would have been possible a year ago, things like raising the legal age of possession of an assault rifle, red flag legislation, which there seems to be a lot of consensus around. And the red flag legislation is when someone shows signs of wanting to harm themselves or others, you can get a restraining order on their gun. The fact that people seem to be willing to talk about these kinds of solutions is very promising.

GREENE: Well, Mayor, we'll be thinking about your community in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you so much for your time.

HUNSCHOFSKY: Thank you.

GREENE: That is the mayor of Parkland, Fla., Mayor Christine Hunschofsky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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