- The father of a student killed last week in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting criticized Republican Sen. Marco Rubio during a CNN town-hall event.
- Rubio appeared to agree with the idea of enacting new gun measures, including raising the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style rifles.
- But he stopped short of supporting a ban on assault-style weapons.
The father of a student killed in last week’s school shooting criticized Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida during a CNN town-hall event on Wednesday night.
Fred Guttenberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was one of the 17 people killed in the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“I just listened to your opening, and thank you. I want to like you,” Guttenberg said after Rubio gave opening remarks. “Here’s the problem – and I’m a brutally honest person, so I’m just going to say it up front. When I like you, you know it, and when I’m pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak.
“You and I are now eye-to-eye. Cause I want to like you,” Guttenberg continued. “Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week, and look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns.”
Rubio’s next words were met with boos from the crowd.
“The problems that we are facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone,” Rubio said.
“Were guns the factor in the hunting of our kids?” Guttenberg repeated.
“Of course they were,” Rubio replied. “I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away.”
“Fantastic,” Guttenberg said approvingly.
What Rubio can – and can’t – support
Rubio then appeared to hint that he could support some new restrictions on guns, including banning bump stocks, a device that can be added to a semiautomatic weapon to make it fire more rapidly. President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to propose a ban on the devices, but many think a solution would need to come from Congress.
“I will support the banning of bump stocks,” Rubio said. “I will support changing our background system so that it includes more information than it includes now and that all states across the country are required or incentivized to report all the information into it.”
Rubio floated the possibility of reconsidering his stance on high-capacity magazines, which allow shooters to fire more rounds before reloading. Though Rubio previously opposed legislation to limit high-capacity magazines, he said on Wednesday that such a law could have made the Parkland shooting “less lethal.”
Rubio also said he would support raising the federal age limit to buy a rifle, which is now 18 from licensed dealers. But he wavered on one thing Guttenberg appeared to be trying to push him to support: a ban on assault-style weapons.
“If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it,” Rubio said amid shouts from the crowd. “But I want to explain to you why it would not.”
“My daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back with an assault weapon,” Guttenberg said. “The weapon of choice. OK? It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can’t stand with everybody in this building and say that? I’m sorry.”
Rubio appeared to agree that assault-style weapons posed a danger but gave a few examples of issues he had with a proposed assault-weapon ban, such as the range of guns beyond AR-15-style rifles that he said would be banned because of the language of the bill.
“My belief remains that rather than continue to try to chase every loophole that’s created … is we instead should make sure that dangerous criminals, people that are deranged cannot buy any gun of any kind,” Rubio said.
“Your answer speaks for itself,” Guttenberg said.
The Florida state legislature voted 71-36 on Tuesday to reject a measure to consider banning the sale of assault weapons.