Once again, a U.S. senator elected to serve voters and residents thousands of miles from the District seeks to disrupt the lives, safety and general welfare of D.C.’s citizens, sponsoring a bill that would eliminate nearly all of the District’s gun safety laws.
And to voice their discontent, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) Executive Director Josh Horwitz and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who represents Parkland, Fla., recently spoke out demanding that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdraw his controversial, if not contentious, bill.
During a CNN town hall held last month and with emotions still raw following the Parkland massacre, Rubio abruptly shifted gears from his previously-held stance.
“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,” he said.
But during his last two terms in Congress, Rubio has served as the primary sponsor of gun legislation that would permit individuals in the District under the age of 21 to purchase assault rifles. In addition, it would repeal virtually all of D.C.’s gun safety laws, including current bans on assault rifles, such as the AR-15, used in the Parkland shooting, guns in schools and large capacity ammunition magazines, as well as registration requirements. A Rubio spokesperson recently told the Miami Herald that he will not withdraw his D.C. gun bill.
Rubio first introduced the D.C. gun bill in 2015, just before announcing his candidacy for president, and, upon filing his bill, the National Rifle Association upgraded Rubio’s rating from a B-plus to an A.
Here are some of the responses of those opposing Rubio’s plan:
Eleanor Holmes Norton: “As much as they have tried, we have succeeded this far against bills who try to eliminate our gun laws. Rubio’s bill would eliminate our assault weapons ban, allow guns in our schools, allow large capacity magazines and eliminate registration. Under this bill, the shooter in Parkland would have been allowed to carry assault rifle into our schools.
“He recently said 18-year-olds should not be able to buy a rifle. We therefore call on him to withdraw his bill,” she said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser: “This is yet another example of encroachment by a U.S. senator on the District of Columbia, its citizens and the decisions previously made by our locally elected officials. Our legislature has acted on gun legislation that works for the people of D.C., so you can imagine how insulted we are.”
“We have determined that we do not want people with assault rifles to carry them in our city or anyone under 21 with the ability to purchase them. We have determined we don’t want guns in our schools. Rubio’s bill would gut that. We feel very strongly that these measures work for the people of D.C. Mr. Rubio should withdraw this bull and do so immediately.”
“The young people of Parkland, Florida, are getting it right. They said we have to stop talking about making common sense gun law and do something about it. Our young people are relying on elected officials. We are concerned about the hypocrisy of Rubio to say he’s getting tougher on gun control in Florida and yet to propose just the opposite for the people of Washington, D.C.,” she said.
Representative from the city of Parkland, Marjory Stoneman High School: “The shooting created an enormous hole in our community. I’ve been meeting with the loved ones of families who lost students. Those constituents of mine are also those of Rubio. We shouldn’t have to have another mass shooting for Congress to act. In the state legislature of Florida, overwhelmingly Republican, they were able to pass some small measures, small steps in the right direction.”
“Rubio has shown time and time again a disconnect between D.C. and the community he represents. In this case he’s saying one thing and doing something completely different. He got credit for showing up at the CNN town hall and was called courageous but it’s not courageous to say one thing and do another — it’s phony. He wants to impose extreme gun laws on the people of D.C., he wants to dismantle the strong work of your government.”
“The bill he wants for D.C. ironically goes strongly against the will of Floridians where 70 percent of Floridians want stricter gun laws. The will of the people in Florida seems to have been contradicted to earn that A rating from the NRA. The rating he now enjoys from the NRA should not matter more than saving the lives of children.”
Coalition of Gun Violence Rep. Horowitz:
“I’ve been working on D.C. gun laws for more than 40 years. After the Heller decision, the court required some D.C. gun laws to be rewritten and the District has crafted their laws to be consistent with the second amendment and save lives backed up by evidence.”
“Rubio’s bill would open the gun loophole and allow private sales on the internet. That makes no sense. This bill would allow high capacity magazines and assault weapons in D.C. The idea to safeguard our cities and after crafting 10 years of legislation and to now roll back District laws at this stage of the game makes no sense. Here in the District our laws have made it where gun suicide laws are extremely low versus Florida. Our laws here work. Rubio should focus on Florida and not hurt the citizens of the District of Columbia.”
Norton: “The laws in D.C. haven’t been passed by Congress but by the mayor and the city council. Congress has the right to pass laws over the District of Columbia, but they can’t do that over other states. The reason for Rubio’s bill is he’s trying to do to D.C. what he could not do to other states.”
“He’s been putting in this bill since 2015. In the Senate it has no co-sponsors, so why does he keep putting it in? For the NRA. Again, you see how cynical this bill is.”
Finally, Bowser reiterated her position, adding, “We will not be deterred by the actions of a member of Congress when it comes to the safety of our citizens.”