Go back and watch the CNN town hall on the Parkland massacre — you know, the one where Marco Rubio was repeatedly owned so hard that he could barely stutter out his canned lines — and you'll see the survivors and victims' families keep making three demands: Reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, ban high-capacity magazines, and stop taking money from the Nation Rifle Association.
Today on the Senate floor, Rubio announced his post-Parkland safety plan, and, yeah, he's not gonna do any of those things.
Instead, he backed a number of more modest reforms including beefing up security and training at schools, creating a "gun violence restraining order" to allow cops to take weapons from known threats, and requiring schools to report dangerous kids to police. Rubio said those changes might have stopped Nikolas Cruz from murdering 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"We must act now, as soon as possible, to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like Parkland," he said.
Rubio's plan isn't the raging dumpster fire rocketing through Tallahassee — which would seek to arm teachers while doing nothing about gun control. But it's still, at its core, garbage. It proposes:
- Backing Orin Hatch's bill to add more security features to schools and more money to train staff and teachers how to identify dangerous students.
- Creating gun violence restraining orders, which would "prevent gun sales or remove guns from individuals who pose a threat."
- Altering the Promise Program, an Obama-era effort to end the schools-to-prison pipeline, which conservatives have targeted for supposedly discouraging school officials from reporting Cruz to police (though there's little evidence that's the case).
- Supporting the Fix NICS proposal, which would force federal agencies to share more information with national background-checking systems.
- Encouraging prosecutors to charge people banned from buying guns who try to get weapons and to go after straw buyers who do the buying for them.
That's it. Notice anything missing?
If you answered, "Attempting to stop the sale of weapons of war used in every modern mass shooting," you are correct!
Rubio clearly knows he's not going nearly far enough to prevent the next mass shooting. He even acknowledges it in his speech, saying he's open to considering the "possibility of looking at age limits on semiautomatic rifles, looking at what can be done with high-capacity magazines."
But he's not backing them now, he says, because "these reforms do not enjoy the sort of widespread support in Congress that the other measures I've announced do."
What he really means is these reforms also do not enjoy the widespread support of the National Rifle Association, which has bolstered Rubio's campaign accounts to the tune of $3.3 million over the years. In fact, the NRA would seem to have no serious objections to any of Rubio's proposals, except perhaps the gun violence restraining order.
Rubio went to great lengths to emphasize how many Stoneman Douglas victims he's met and listened to and how urgently he feels the need to prevent the next tragedy — a line that poses the obvious question of why he didn't feel such a pressing need after 49 of his LGBTQ constituents were murdered at Pulse nightclub two years earlier by another madman with another assault weapon.
Rubio could back a ban on assault weapons. He could back a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Instead, he's still sponsoring a bill that would force Washington, D.C., to allow 18-year-olds to buy AR-15s, a bill he told the Miami Herald yesterday he still supports even after Parkland.
Nothing will change in America's endless cycle of mass killings until Washington is willing to cross the NRA. Rubio showed again today he's not about to take that first step.
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