Republicans Are a No Show Across the Country for Town Halls on Gun Action

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The organizers of last month’s March for Our Lives have taken their movement to town halls across the country and invited congressional lawmakers—who have returned to their districts for a two-week recess—to discuss action on gun control. According to the Town Hall Project, more than 130 of these meetings are taking place, with most of the events happening on Saturday.
Though invited, no Republicans appeared at any town halls, and many of the forums featured empty chairs to symbolize their absences.
Mother Jones‘ Kara Voght attended the town hall at Virginia’s 10th congressional district, where every Democratic candidate seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock showed up to discuss gun legislation. Comstock, unsurprisingly, refused to attend.

.@BarbaraComstock refused her invitation, so gun violence prevention group (and anti-Comstockers) @GaysXGunsDC showed up in her place.
“Smile and say ‘NRA!’”
— Kara Voght (@karavoght) April 7, 2018

We’re starting to hear from candidates in the VA-10 #TownHallForOurLives, and the place is insanely packed. This is quite the captive audience for what has become an ad-hoc Dem candidate forum.
— Kara Voght (@karavoght) April 7, 2018

Not just the Parkland kids. Listen to this local 15-year-old take the VA-10 Dem candidates to task with her question about the 46 teenagers who die from gun violence everyday, pulling the focus away from mass shootings:
— Kara Voght (@karavoght) April 7, 2018

Here are some other highlights from around the country.
Let’s start in Glen Ellyn, Illinois:

It’s absolutely packed at today’s #TownHallForOurLives! Thanks to @CBIL6th @townhallproject and @AMarch4OurLives for organizing this event and the students from our local schools for carrying it out so well!
— Hadiya Afzal (@hadiyafordupage) April 7, 2018

Then go east to Natick, Massachusetts: 

Thank you @SenWarren @RepKClark @RepDavidLinsky for talking to students today about #GunContolNow #THFOL #TownHallForOurLives #mapoli
— doylemama (@doylemama) April 7, 2018

Next stop, Fresno, California:

Opening remarks from Town Hall for our Lives calls out police violence and how it contributes to gun violence in our communities. #CA22 #TownHallForOurLives #FrancoForCongress
— Franco for Congress (@ricojfranco) April 7, 2018

Then back to Buffalo, NY:

This is an empty chair.If @RepChrisCollins had made time to listen to his constituents, he could have sat here and explained his positions on gun violence. Instead, he ignored the student organizers, and called them names. #TownHallForOurLives #NeverAgain
— Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (@amylvpoemfarm) April 7, 2018

Also in New York, this from New York City:

Thank you Congresswomen @NydiaVelazquez and @RepMaloney for hosting the#NYC #TownHallForOurLives. It was an honor to join the other panelists and represent @MomsDemand at this student moderated event to say #EnoughIsEnough
— @Solluna (@Solluna36541375) April 7, 2018

In the midwest, there is a meeting in Ashtabula, Ohio:

Congressman Joyce — I want to be sure you don’t miss out on today’s moving #TownHallForOurLives in Ashtabula, organized by #OH14 High School students. I hope you decide to join us next time, but I’m honored to hear from voters in your absense.
— Betsy Rader (@BetsyRaderOH) April 7, 2018

But it’s not as if Republicans failed to meet with constituents at all this week. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) hosted a “coffee with constituents” event on Friday, pulled out a loaded gun, and said “I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords”—referring to the Arizona Democrat who was shot outside a grocery store in 2011.
“I don’t mind dying,” Norman told the crowd, “but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back.”