Marco Rubio has a message for critics after the Parkland school shooting who say he’s bought and sold by the National Rifle Association: The gun lobby buys into my agenda, not the other way around.
But Rubio’s legislative agenda on guns is light.
Since coming to Washington in 2011, the Florida Republican has introduced 463 bills, of which only two, both introduced twice, directly involve guns. Rubio’s Second Amendment Enforcement Act was first introduced on March 26, 2015, 18 days before he announced a presidential bid.
When Rubio introduced his bill, which would overturn most of Washington D.C.’s strict gun laws, his NRA grade was B+, a lower rating than all but two of his fellow Republican presidential contenders at the time. Rubio’s less than perfect rating stemmed from his time in the Florida legislature where he wavered on an NRA-approved bill that allowed people with concealed-carry permits to keep their weapons in their vehicles while at work.
A few weeks later, Rubio’s NRA grade went up to an A, and it has stayed there ever since. Since entering the Senate, he has consistently voted in favor of policies and co-sponsored legislation the NRA supports, arguing that restrictions on guns hinder the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Rubio’s office said he decided to introduce the bill in 2015, and not when he entered the Senate in 2011, because a young woman who began working for him in 2014 wanted to bring two legally acquired handguns to D.C. to protect herself after a shooting near her building. The process to legally own a gun under D.C. law was so “unreasonable and complicated” that she had to take time off work to complete it, Rubio spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said.
“Based on this real-life story he witnessed firsthand, he introduced the bill so that D.C. law would be in line with federal law,” Perez-Cubas said in an email. “He also sent a letter to his colleagues asking for support on the measure.”
But it doesn’t appear that Rubio did much to push his legislation.
Rubio didn’t gain any cosponsors for his 2015 bill, and he hasn’t gotten any cosponsors after reintroducing the legislation in 2017. A nearly identical bill to Rubio’s measure had already been written and introduced by John McCain in 2010. McCain’s bill garnered 18 cosponsors, including three Democrats. Neither Rubio nor McCain’s bill received a hearing or markup in committee, or a vote on the Senate floor.
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