"An avalanche is coming to Washington, sir, and it is going to be led by our children."
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) faced a blisteringly angry crowd of voters at a town hall meeting Monday, where the mass killing of school children 2,000 miles away in southern Florida dominated the discussion.
And when Coffman, who was pressed time and again on the issue of gun violence, suggested turning public schools into armed fortresses and stressing that “force has to be met with force,” the town hall event came to a halt amidst deafening boos.
“Horrible answer!” one voter shouted out.
The tenor for the tumultuous event was set at the outset when calls for a moment of silence for the 17 students and teachers killed in Parkland, Florida, last week were met with angry jeers from the crowd, which demanded action not platitudes.
“We’re done with thoughts and prayers!” one man shouted.
Coffman has received $34,000 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, more than any other Colorado member of Congress, according to the Associated Press.
Early on, one constituent demanded to know what Coffman was going to do to protect students in the wake of the latest campus shooting. “Our children do not deserve to be murdered in school,” she said.
The Republican answered by suggesting the emphasis should not be on taking away guns, but on beefing up school fortifications. “That’s sick,” one attendant yelled out.
“Why do we have more protection for federal buildings than we do for a school? We have to address the issue of school safety today,” Coffman said. “What these shooters look for is soft targets that are vulnerable when there’s an element of surprise. Force has to be me with force.”
Angry voters seemed generally stunned that a congressman was advocating turning schools into firing ranges where “force has to be met with force.” (There are approximately 120,000 schools in America. Coffman gave no details for how the GOP would secure them all.)
Moments later, a local voter told Coffman, “An avalanche is coming to Washington, sir, and it is going to be led by our children.”
Coffman represents a Colorado district that is painfully familiar with mass shootings. In 2012, 13 people were killed at the Aurora theater gun massacre. It’s also a swing district that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
One constituent demanded to know why Coffman supported Trump in 2017 when he overturned an Obama-era rule that banned mentally ill people from getting guns.
“I cannot understand how somebody who represented the district that has the Aurora theater in it can say this is a bad idea.”
Added another voter, “I don’t see why we’re so afraid of the NRA.”
Coffman wouldn’t answer that question.