Rubio joins group threatening to filibuster gun control legislation

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday joined a group of Republicans threatening to filibuster gun control legislation in the Senate.

“We, the undersigned, intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance,” he wrote in a statement on his website.

“The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens’ right to self-defense. It speaks to history’s lesson that government cannot be in all places at all times, and history’s warning about the oppression of a government that tries.”

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Earlier this week, GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), and Ted Cruz (Texas) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledging to “oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”

In adding his name to that letter on Thursday, Rubio gives the group some added heft and star power.

Next month, Reid plans to bring to the floor a bill that would expand background checks and penalties on straw purchases of firearms. The portion of the bill on illegal trafficking of firearms has bipartisan support, including from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Grassley is also preparing gun control legislation he will offer as an alternative to the package from Democrats.

The White House is digging in for a fight over gun control. Press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday criticized the Republican threat, saying it would send the wrong message to the families of gun violence victims.

On Thursday, President Obama made an emotional plea for Congress to pass gun control legislation, recalling the massacre that left 26 people dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School less than 100 days ago.

But Rubio said Obama's proposals aren't what's needed to reduce gun violence.

“We should look for ways to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill prone to misusing them, but I oppose legislation that will be used as a vehicle to impose new Second Amendment restrictions on responsible, law-abiding gun owners,” Rubio said.

“We should work to reduce tragic acts of violence by addressing violence at its source, including untreated mental illness, the lack of adequate information-sharing on mental health issues, and the breakdown of the family.”