ERIE, Pa. - Gun control was the focus of a 16th Congressional District debate in Erie Tuesday evening.

Democratic nominee Christopher Rieger, a 33-year-old attorney from Cranberry Twp., was the only one of the three nominees of his party to attend the forum at Strong Vincent Middle School.  The two other Democrats in the race were not at Tuesday's forum. Erie attorney Ron DiNicola cited a scheduling conflict. Mercer County doctor Robert Multari confirmed, but never showed up, organizers said.

"It's really important to get this conversation going so we can stress to our representatives that this issue matters to us and that changes need to be made," said Erin Fleming, a Collegiate Academy junior who co-organized the town hall.

Rieger joined Congressman Mike Kelly's district director, Tim Butler. The forum was hosted by Erie County Student Coalition, the gun control advocacy group that's behind several of the walkouts protesting school shootings at area schools in recent months.

Rieger is pushing for a ban on assault rifles, like the AR-15 used in the Parkland, Fla. shooting in February.

Butler said Kelly and Congress are working on legislation called the STOP School Violence Act, which would allocate $50 million dollars for gun violence prevention in schools.

"We can have a respectable debate where we can balance our fundamental rights with the safety of our citizens and the safety of our kids, as well," Rieger said.

"I don't know if there is one solution that fixes or solves the security concerns of every school in every district," Butler said, speaking for both himself and Kelly at different points during the forum.

A debate between all three Democratic candidates for the 16th Congressional District is scheduled for Apr. 26 at 7p.m. at Erie's Jefferson Educational Society.

Kelly is unopposed in next month's Republican primary election.