11 p.m. UPDATE: The CNN Town Hall closes with a poem written by the late Alex Schacter, read by his father, comparing life to roller coaster ride. That is followed by a song called "Shine," written by students to honor the victims.
10:30 p.m. UPDATE: Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez asks Dana Loesch of the NRA if it should be difficult to get assault weapons. Loesch says she doesn't believe "this insane monster" should have "ever been able to obtain a firearm."
9:55 p.m. UPDATE: Cameron Kasky, a junior at Douglas, asks Sen. Rubio if he will pledge to not accept NRA money. The senator replies that the influence of groups like the NRA comes not from money, but the millions of people who support the agenda.
9:50 p.m. UPDATE: Robert Schentrup - who lost sister Carmen Schentrup, a merit scholar whose 17th birthday would have been today- asks Deutch if our democracy is broken. “A little bit, it is,” he replies.
9:35 p.m. UPDATE: To big applause, Ryan Deitsch, a Douglas senior who who hid in a closet during the shooting, asks Rubio why students have to speak out for action. The senator responds that he's pushing families to have weapons taken from relatives deemed dangerous.
9:25 p.m. UPDATE: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he told fellow senator Marco Rubio "he had guts coming here." He pointed out that Gov. Rick Scott did not accept an invitation to appear in person or by video.
9:20 p.m. UPDATE: Rubio was attacked by a questioner, who called his comments and those of President Trump "pathetically weak." Rubio responded that he supports taking away the right of 18-year-olds to buy assault rifles.
9:15 p.m. UPDATE: Answering a student question, Deutch vowed "get weapons of war off of our streets" and make assault weapons illegal.
9:10 p.m. UPDATE: Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio urged both sides of the issue to do more to work with each other. "Don't make the mistakes my generation," he said. "I want to find a way forward to solve this problem."
9:05 p.m UPDATE: U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents Parkland, drew a standing ovation when he said the people want action, not thoughts and prayers.
9 p.m. UPDATE: The town hall began with CNN's Jake Tapper introducing a video tribute to the victims. "May their memory be a blessing," he said.
8:35 p.m. UPDATE: Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie spoke to the crowd before the town hall, praising "the greatest students in America." He asked all teachers and educators to stand up for a round of applause, calling them "true American heroes." Recalling the Valentine's Day shooting, he said: "The heart of Broward County was broken. We witnessed the worst of humanity, but we also witnessed the best of the human spirit."
He promised extra security at Stoneman Douglas when it reopens Tuesday, along with support and counseling. He urged everyone to "move the conversiation beyond thougths and prayers to real action. Our children deserve nothing less. Out of the ashes of grief and despair we see hope and optimism."
"These are the young people who are going to change the world for the better," he said of the Stoneman Douglas students in attendance. He encouraged change in the country's dialog and the way issues are debated. He then introduced Stoneman Douglas Principal Ty Thompson, thanking him for his leadership. He took a dig at proposals to allow guns in schools. "We don't need guns in the hands of teachers. We need to arm our teachers with more money."
8:15 p.m. UPDATE: Standing on stage around 8 p.m., Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel asked all Stoneman Douglas students to stand up and be recognized. "You're articulate, you're intelligent, you will not quit," he said. "America is watching you." He spoke of seeing the carnage at the scene of the shooting: "I'll never forget the vision, it's embedded in my head," he said. In closing, he encouraged the young activists to fight for sensible gun laws: "You have a voice, stay together ... you will get it done."
7:30 p.m. UPDATE: Students are tweeting from inside the BBT Center as the arena’s seats fill up. According to CNN, around 7,000 people are expected.
7:20 p.m. UPDATE: Many in the crowd are wearing maroon for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in a show of solidarity.
7 p.m. UPDATE: Students from all over South Florida are gathering hours before tonight’s CNN town hall. Two students from Coral Glades High in Coral Springs said the fear in the wake of the shooting is evident at their school. "The environment, it’s not the same,” said Andrey Ramos, a junior. “Kids are scared to go to the bathroom alone and kids are scared to just be in the hallways. Hallways are dead."
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, parents and officials will participate in a nationally televised town hall meeting about gun control and the school shooting tonight from the BB&T Center.
“Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” will air live on CNN from 9-11 p.m. It will also be available on CNN.com.
The event, closed to the general public, will be moderated by CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
US Rep. Ted Deutch and Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are among the politicians who have accepted invitations to participate. National Rifle Association will also participate with national spokeswoman Dana Loesch representing the organization.
“The school shooting in Florida this week has sparked a renewed call for lawmakers to take action, and some of the loudest voices demanding change are not even old enough to vote,” the network said in a news release.
According to CNN, President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott both declined offers to participate in the town hall and take questions from the students.
“With only three weeks left of our annual legislative session, Governor Rick Scott will be in Tallahassee meeting with state leaders to work on ways to keep Florida students safe, including school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness,” according to a statement from Scott’s press office.
Among the students speaking tonight: Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin will participate. Students have been demanding change after 17 were killed in the Feb. 14 massacre.