During a tense interview aired Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again rejected many Floridians’ criticism that certain gun control laws would have prevented Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
He also defended his ties to the National Rifle Association, and blamed congressional inaction regarding such mass shootings on “people just mov[ing] on.”
Rubio hasn’t personally attempted to address mass shootings through legislation, he said, because “we don’t fully understand everything that could’ve been done to prevent this.”
Much of the mourning following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, which left 17 dead and more injured, transformed with surprising speed into passionate political advocacy. And, perhaps aside from President Donald Trump, more of that passion has been directed at Rubio, a large beneficiary of the gun lobby’s support, than anyone else.
“I see this reported, it’s unfair, I’ve never said we can’t do anything,” Rubio said, repeating a point he made on the Senate floor Thursday. He added: “What I have said is that the proposals out there would not have prevented it, and that’s a fact.”
WFOR’s Jim DeFede asked Rubio about his vote against legislation to ban magazines that hold 10 or more rounds of ammunition.
Rubio said there wasn’t any evidence the ban would prevent mass shootings, and added that “there are legitimate reasons why people want those–”
“What is a legitimate reason for an AR-15 to be able to have 30 or 50 rounds in a clip,” DeFede interjected.
“Well, first of all, they don’t have 50. The second reason is people that are in– whether it’s sport shooting, or, for example they are used in hunting, I heard somebody say yesterday that they’re not.”
“And so the rationale is that they use those, and if you have to reload every time, it would affect either the sport shooting aspect or the hunting aspect,” he continued. “Now, the details of that bill had other things in it that were beyond the magazine capacity.”
The senator pointed, as he did several times, to a 2015 Washington Post fact check that concluded: “It is possible that some gun-control proposals, such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of dead in a future shooting, though the evidence for that is heavily disputed. But Rubio was speaking in the past, about specific incidents. He earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark.”
Asked about a ban on guns like the AR-15, the semi-automatic assault rifle alleged to have been used in Parkland, Rubio said: “Number one, the law would not prevent these mass shootings. Number two, there are millions of them in the street already. They’re here to stay. The genie’s out of the bottle.”
He added: “That said, do I believe it should be harder to get one? Do I believe it should be impossible for someone to get one if they are under the condition that the shooter was in Parkland? Absolutely. And one of the problems we have there is we don’t have the complete mental health picture in the background check system.”
Rubio brought up that same point later in the interview: “I don’t think people like this guy or people like him should have any gun. Not an AR-15, any gun. We need to create a system that keeps them from getting it. We don’t have one now that does that. That’s what I’m in favor of.”
“So who’s going to take the lead on that?” DeFede pressed. “Are you?
“I’m prepared to take the lead, and others are–” Rubio began.
DeFede tried again: “Am I going to see a Rubio bill about this?”
“You should,” Rubio said. “You should.”
“But will I?”
“What I’m trying to tell you is that I don’t have that bill yet. Because we don’t fully understand everything that could’ve been done to prevent this,” he said, adding that it was “not a simple thing like there’s one idea and if you do this one thing, this’ll never happen again.”
“We need to take the time — and not forever — but we need to take time to understand what that is,” he said.
Rubio said later that Congress needed to “come up with ideas — not just one, but many, that solve this,” noting that the Senate had tried to address gun control in 2013 and failed.
“Okay, that’s five years ago, and how many mass shootings have we had since then?” DeFede asked.
“Several,” Rubio said. “And why hasn’t it? I don’t know the answer. Part of it, I think, is people just move on. The news moves on, society moves on, and politicians move on.”
Multiple times in the interview, DeFede Brought up the NRA, at one point saying Rubio’s constituents believed he wouldn’t make progress on gun legislation “in part because you don’t want to anger the NRA.”
“First of all, they support my agenda, I don’t support theirs,” he replied. “These are the things I stand for and I always have. So it is logical in American politics that if you believe in a certain set of ideas, the people who support the ideas will advocate on your behalf, and by the way, the people that are against it would advocate against you.”
There is one gun control measure Rubio told DeFede he supports, one he wouldn’t have to vote on it either way: a state level proposal to allow police, with a judge’s order, to remove guns from the homes of individuals suspected of being mentally unfit to handle them.
“That is an example of a state law, that in this case, if it has been used could have prevented this,” the senator said.