A student-led forum on how to end gun violence posed a series questions to Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins and Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, a Democrat who is running against Chris Collins for the 27th Congressional District this fall.
The group called Students for Action, faced criticism from Collins yesterday that they had outside help from organized liberal groups.
Students and adults submitted questions on index cards. Questions like, "do you support school resource officers in schools?" were asked. Both Higgins and McMurray said, yes, but they're not a perfect solution.
"They'll have guns that can't match the guns you can buy," McMurray said.
"And the technology of killing has advanced more quickly than almost anything in our society," Higgins said.
Students for Action founder Georgia VanDerwater estimates they got through about half the questions submitted, and says they tried to choose questions that were diverse and challenged the politicians.
"What is your response to the responsible gun owner who owns an assault weapon, who uses it for hunting, who uses it for self-defense, and doesn't use it for anything else?" Andrew Kawalczyk read off a card.
McMurray answered, "I believe in the second amendment. I think that people who also support the second amendment have been vilified in our society unfairly...But I think we're talking about a small section of weapons that do the most damage."
Another question that was asked: What quantifiable steps is each politician taking to remedy gun violence?
"I support a ban on assault weapons for the very reasons I stated previously, and that is, they are designed to do one thing: kill people," Higgins said.
And what steps can you take to help fix relationships between police and minority communities?
"You ask what I'm doing specifically...I'm running for Congress," McMurray said.
Congressman Chris Collins, who denied an invitation to partake, criticized the group saying the forum was orchestrated by organized liberal groups.
WGRZ watched, and although there were members of such groups in attendance, the students appeared to handle the whole forum on their own.
However, we did ask why no elected Republicans were on the answering panel.
"We reached out to several and we were denied by all, so unfortunately we were unable to have as diverse as a panel as we were hoping to, but it wasn't for lack of trying," VanDerwater said.