Rubio unveils gun plan focused on school safety

Greg Nash

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday unveiled a slate of school safety and background check proposals after 17 people were killed in a Florida shooting last month. 

“I also know that there is widespread support and agreement that we must act now, as soon as possible, to prevent another tragedy like Parkland,” Rubio said from the Senate floor. 
Rubio outlined six bills that he either supports or will be introducing following the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, including creating “gun violence restraining orders” that would allow law enforcement or family members to get a court order to prevent an individual deemed dangerous from buying a gun or remove a gun from their possession. 
“I wanted to come here …  and announce a comprehensive plan … a series of measures that I believe could prevent these attacks before they happen,” Rubio said. 
He added that he believed the ideas “should all enjoy bipartisan support” and the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.  
The Florida high school shooting has vaulted Rubio back into the national spotlight and placed his gun views under a microscope. During a CNN town hall last week, he was booed by parents and students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 last month. 
Congress is under renewed pressure to pass new legislation, though it remains unclear what rules could win over both chambers.
On Wednesday, President Trump urged a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Rubio, to be “powerful” on background checks and consider raising the age for buying a rifle from 18 to 21. 
Rubio said on Thursday that he will be introducing legislation to target “straw purchases,” when an individual buys a gun for someone who couldn’t pass a background check. 
He will also be introducing “Lie and Try” legislation, which requires the FBI to notify local law enforcement when someone who is prohibited from buying a gun tries to purchase one and fails a background check so they can be prosecuted. 
But, Rubio’s proposals will not address the minimum age for buying a rifle, a measure that is opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and been met with skepticism by most Republicans on Capitol Hill. 
Rubio said on Thursday that he remains open to that idea, as well as reconsidering his support for high capacity magazines. 

“[But] these reforms do not enjoy the sort of widespread support in Congress that the other measures announced today enjoy,” he said.

Instead, Rubio’s proposals also focused on school safety, including a forthcoming bill from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that bolsters school violence prevention grants. 

And noting that federal law currently “appears to discourage school systems from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement,” Rubio said he would introduce legislation to try to cut down on the delay.
It remains unclear what, if any, bill the Senate will take up in response to the Parkland, Fla., shooting. 

Republicans are lining up behind the Fix NICS (National Instant Background Check System) Act, which would enforce current law by ensuring that states and agencies provide criminal records to the NICS, while penalizing those that don’t.

But Trump urged lawmakers to either broaden the bill or fold it into legislation expanding background checks. 
Democrats, while supportive of Fix NICS, believe it is too narrow. Senate Democrats are unveiling their own plan on Thursday
Rubio urged his colleagues not to hold less controversial legislation “hostage.” 
“Do not hold hostage a piece of legislation that would work and that we all support because it does not have everything you want,” he said. “On the things that we agree on … let’s get those done.” 
Tags Donald Trump Gun control gun violence Marco Rubio Marco Rubio National Rifle Association Orrin Hatch Politics of the United States
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