Marco Rubio Wants to Raise and Lower the Age Limit on Buying Rifles

The Florida senator says teenagers shouldn't be allowed to buy guns, but has proposed legislation to let teens buy rifles in DC.

by Eve Peyser
Apr 3 2018, 6:31pm

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Florida senator Marco Rubio has an A-plus rating from the NRA, but in the wake of the Parkland shooting—and after an outcry from gun control activists in his home state—the former 2016 presidential candidate has said he would endorse the mildest of gun reform measures. In a nationally televised CNN town hall in February, Rubio said, "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."

But in a characteristic display of hypocrisy, Rubio has been the primary senator pushing legislation that would reverse the District of Columbia's law that prevents teenagers from buying rifles. The Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which Rubio first introduced in 2015, would also end DC's assault weapon ban, among other provisions.

Following the CNN town hall Washington, DC mayor Muriel Bowser asked Rubio to withdraw his bill. In response, he wrote a letter to Bowser telling her that they in fact “share a common goal," and claimed his legislation simply aims to change DC law to be “in line with federal law.” Federal gun-control regulations—as Rubio surely knows—are currently very lax, compared to many state and local regulations. They're also very difficult to change.

"Stop undermining the safety of our residents just to improve your NRA score," Bowser wrote in response to Rubio's letter. "It's time to show some courage and withdraw your DC gun legislation."

“Rubio’s gun bill should be a public embarrassment as well as a personal embarrassment to him,” Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congress's nonvoting delegate from DC, told the Associated Press. Norton believes that the Second Amendment Enforcement Act has almost no chance of passing, since House and Senate Republicans are unlikely to uniformly vote in favor of such a divisive bill.

“The worst part is why he did it. Why would a senator from Florida take on this issue?” Norton asked rhetorically. “He’s coming back every year for his NRA payoff.”

Rubio has only received a little under $10,000 in direct donations from the NRA, but including the money the NRA spends on behalf of candidates, he has gotten upwards of $3.3 million in NRA contributions, making him the sixth-highest beneficiary of gun lobby money in Congress.

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gun control
Marco Rubio