On Wednesday, the father of a victim of the Florida school shooting slammed Republican Senator Marco Rubio during a town hall event conducted by CNN.
Fred Guttenberg's 14-year old daughter Jaime was killed in the horrific "Valentine's Day Massacre" which took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"I just listened to your opening, and thank you. I want to like you," Guttenberg told Rubio after he gave his opening remarks.
"Here's the problem — and I'm a brutally honest person so I'm just going to say it up front. When I like you, you know it, and when I'm pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak."
"You and I are now eye-to-eye. Cause I want to like you," Guttenberg continued. "Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week, and look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns."
Rubio was booed by the crowd when he uttered his next statement.
"The problems that we are facing here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone," Rubio said.
"Were guns the factor in the hunting of our kids?" Guttenberg said.
"Of course they were," Rubio replied. "I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle and I will support a law that takes that right away."
"Fantastic," Guttenberg said approvingly.
The Florida congressman then said that he is inclined towards imposing new restrictions on the purchase of firearms, including the banning of "bump stocks" which can upgrade a semi-automatic rifle to fire like a fully automatic machine gun.
On Tuesday, President Trump ordered the Justice Department to ban accessories such as the one mentioned above. However, it is the opinion of many that a more radical solution must come in, directly from the Congress.
"I will support the banning of bump stocks," Rubio said. "I will support changing our background system so that it includes more information than it includes now, and that all states across the country are required or incentivized to report all the information into it."
Guttenberg's question was not directly answered by Rubio, who instead tried to clarify his stance on gun rights. He said that he is open to stricter measures which would disallow certain people from purchasing weapons.
Rubio also said that he believes raising the age limit to buy a rifle would effectuate the required change. However, he did not solidly support the ban on assault rifles as proposed by Guttenberg
"If I believe that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it," Rubio said amid clamors from the audience. "But I want to explain to you why it would not."
"My daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back with an assault weapon," Guttenberg said. "The weapon of choice. OK? It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that? I'm sorry."
Rubio said that due to the language of the proposed bill, a wide range of other guns could also be banned from purchase. He acknowledged the danger posed by assault-style weapons but said that the bill needs to be drafted in an articulate manner.
"My belief remains, that rather than continue to try to chase every loophole that's created ... is we instead should make sure that dangerous criminals, people that are deranged cannot buy any gun of any kind," Rubio said.
"Your answer speaks for itself," Guttenberg said.
The audience, which constituted more than 7000 people, erupted with jeers against Rubio when the senator said that he would continue to accept campaign donations from the National Rifle Association. According to records, Rubio has received more than $3.3 million from the NRA in political contributions over the course of his career.
Rubio's statements echoed a speech that he gave last Thursday when he said that “if someone has decided ‘I’m going to commit this crime,’ they will find a way to get the gun to do it.”
On Tuesday, the Florida House of Representatives rejected a measure to consider the banning of assault rifles in a 71-36 vote against the motion. Seventeen were killed after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz gunned down students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 14.
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