When it comes to the debate over gun control following last month’s Parkland school shootings, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has angered both sides.
“I’m just focused on finding answers,” Rubio said Tuesday during a stop at his Tallahassee office at the Florida state Capitol. “I don’t spend my day in the Twitter-bubble. I have a job to do and I’m going to do it.”
On the same day Rubio was meeting with reporters in Tallahassee, students who organized last weekend’s March For Our Lives demonstration in Orlando demonstrated outside his Central Florida office.
“We want to make sure the voice of Orlando’s youth is not pushed to the wayside following Saturday’s march, and we especially want Marco Rubio to understand that we are holding him accountable until change is made,” said Trevor Wild, the head of the Never Again movement at the University of Central Florida.
Following last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Rubio was criticized for saying he was in favor of raising the legal age for buying a firearm and limiting the size of gun magazines, but then failing to support either proposal in Congress.
In the past, Rubio has not supported limits on magazine capacities. He says if he’s being “intellectually honest,” he has to look at that issue again after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students and teachers.
“What has allowed me to re-examine it is the reality that in Parkland, at some point in that shooting, whether it was a gun jam or reloading, the shooter had to stop and people got away. And, so, the purpose of my opposition has always been that I didn’t think it would make a difference and, at least in this particular case, it might have.”
But, he says he has to focus on those issues he knows have a chance of passing Congress. He says neither the limits on magazine capacities or raising the legal age to buy a gun had a chance of passing.
Last week, Rubio, a Republican who is in his second term, helped pass the STOP School Violence Act. It establishes a grant program with more than a $1 billion that will go to schools to enhance security measures. He’s also a sponsor of the “red flag” bill that would provide funding to states that allow law enforcement officers to confiscate guns from the mentally ill or from those considered to be a threat to themselves or others.
“You can regulate the machinery or you can regulate the person that is behind it,” Rubio added. “I just think we are better served and have more support, in terms of getting it into law, doing more to stop shooters than we are trying to regulate guns.”
Rubio is a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. He has also been criticized for his support of the National Rifle Association and for taking more than $3 million in campaign donations from the gun rights group,
“One of the single biggest threats to the Second Amendment is these mass shooters,” Rubio said. “Because if it weren’t for mass shootings and gun crime you wouldn’t see this outcry that’s been created because it’s awakening the conscience of a country.”
He says he’s trying to find a middle ground both sides of the debate can agree on. He says if you have ten ideas on the table but can only agree on half of them, you compromise and go with the five ideas both sides can agree on as a starting point to solving a problem
“I don’t know anyone who is in favor of mass shootings,” Rubio said Tuesday. “I’m trying to figure out changes that will prevent the next one and the only way we can achieve changes is if people, who have differences of opinion, are willing to agree on something that is meaningful.”
He says there is no way for this country to solve its problems “unless you have a discourse that is productive,” as opposed to having two sides constantly at odds.
“We’ve got to back up from that or we’re just going to continue to dig people in deeper to their positions and we’ll just spend the next 30 years hating on each other, fighting with each other, but never solving anything.”