Rubio’s flippant attitude after Texas school shooting should cost Florida senator his job | Opinion

·5 min read

The NRA’s top gun senator from Florida won’t back down.

Widely respected polls show that the majority of Americans support some type of gun control — and reject the idea peddled by Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio that no arms regulation can prevent school shootings.

“The issue is not the firearm, it’s the lunatic,” Rubio told the Capitol press pool this week after a young man in Texas who easily purchased two AR-15 assault-style rifles just days after his 18th birthday gunned down 19 children and two teachers and wounded or injured at least 17 people, including his grandmother.

“The truth of the matter is, these people are going to commit these horrifying crimes,” the cocky senator said, attacking the journalist who pressed him on his obviously inadequate answer.

And he doubled down later in the week as details of the killings became known, providing evidence that, indeed, the Republican “good guy with a gun” theory can’t stop a killer unleashing upon innocents weapons made for war.

NRA’s man in Florida

In a series of tweets, Rubio attacked the Miami Heat basketball team and the NBA for displaying during a game an affecting ad calling for legislative action on gun control.

Because the organization he’s really behind is the NRA.

What Rubio called “politicizing” the Uvalde school massacre is actually giving a damn that this country leads the world, by far, in the number of children killed by gun violence.

Número uno.

Mass shootings don’t happen in countries that regulate gun ownership. And when they do, they’re curtailed in civilized societies such as New Zealand, which immediately banned assault weapons after back-to-back mass shootings, terrorist attacks on two mosques, in 2019.

But, according to Rubio, we should surrender to fate instead of seeking solutions as a country capable of launching space missions but not stopping angry young men from gunning down large numbers of people in a matter of minutes.

For Rubio, the No. 1 concern isn’t the safety of our children, or anyone else, but the gun industry’s ability to sell fancier and more powerful rifles. After all, the National Rifle Association has contributed $3.3 million to his political campaigns, funding his career.

READ MORE: You, too, Republicans are holding the rifles killing our children. We need action — now

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch O’Connell can read the political moment and has asked Republican senators to work with Democrats to come up with bipartisan solutions.

But nothing seems to sway Rubio, who voted on Thursday along with Republican colleagues — as devastating stories of loss poured out of Texas — to block a measure already on the table, a bill to address domestic terrorism.

All the bill would have done is set up offices at the Justice Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to focus on homegrown extremism.

For a man who constantly quotes self-righteous passages from the Bible, Rubio has a stunningly contradictory stance on the right of would-be killers to easily purchase and bear arms.

The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t ambivalent at all, and those who interpret scripture believe that it extends to people who facilitate killing as well. His obstinate opposition to any measure that could stymie gun violence makes him sound like a faithful protector of would-be killers.

The senator has a lot of reflection to do in coming days when the Senate will be called to act on new gun-safety legislation.

Anti-gun safety record

But, if his record in the wake of mass shootings is any indication, he’s too far gone to evolve.

After the slaughter of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Rubio, a father of four, gloated publicly that he would oppose all legislation restricting guns. He threatened, along with other Republicans, to filibuster gun bills.

After the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed, Rubio voted against a measure to expand background checks. A year earlier, he had voted against expanding background checks after the San Bernardino shooting.

Again, his rap was that gun control was not the answer to the California shooting.

He couldn’t brush off the Parkland school shooting in South Florida as easily, thanks to the survivors who’ve made it their lives’ work to stop the madness. He promised to support some measures, like background checks and age restrictions on rifle purchases.

But Wednesday he wasn’t having any of it, telling CNN’s Manu Raju: “The truth of the matter is these people are going to commit these horrifying crimes, whether they have to use another weapon to do it, they’re going to figure out a way to do it.”

He doesn’t see the difference between disarming a person with a knife or machete vs. a person packing high-capacity rifles and multiple-round magazines.

The stories of immeasurable sorrow in the tight-knit town of Uvalde, Texas, are heart-breaking. So are the facts, among them the impotence and Parkland-like negligence of armed law enforcement faced with another killer armed with an AR 15-style assault weapon.

But neither horror nor fact sways Rubio.

Come November, voters should make him see the light at the ballot box.

His opponent, Congresswoman Val Demings, offers what’s needed: unequivocal empathy coupled with a call to action.

“It’s ridiculous that Marco Rubio is trying to distract us from the issue at hand, which is keeping our communities safe,” said the former Orlando police chief. “I stand with the American citizens that are sick and tired of innocent people being gunned down in innocent places.”

Many more Floridians than Rubio appreciates think the same.

The crowd at the Miami Heat game against the Boston Celtics cheered when the announcer urged them to contact their senators to demand they support “common-sense gun laws.”

Rubio should pay for his disdain for our grief and loss — with his job.

Santiago
Santiago
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