Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) backed the NRA-supported “concealed carry reciprocity” Sunday morning, an initiative which would require concealed carry permits to be accepted universally across the country, forcing states with tighter permit restrictions to accept permit-holders from states with looser ones.
Rubio took the initiative one step further, saying on Fox News Sunday that if a person has undergone a background check for a concealed carry permit in one state, that person shouldn’t necessarily have to undergo another background check to buy a gun in another state.
RUBIO: If you have a concealed weapons permit, you do a background check. I have no problem with that. But are they going to honor that in all 50 states? If someone goes to another state to buy a gun do I have to undergo another background check, or will my concealed weapons permit be de facto proof that I am not a criminal? These are the sorts of things I hope we’ll talk about.
Rubio’s comments ignore that the requirements for concealed carry permits vary from state to state, and that a person can commit a criminal act after they have received a concealed carry permit. Plus, permit issuers don’t always catch criminals or the mentally unstable — a 2012 investigation that found Rubio’s home state of Florida did not check the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System when issuing concealed carry permits, overlooking the 1.6 million records of Americans with mental illnesses the database contains.
The Senator on Sunday also admitted that though he hadn’t read the Manchin-Toomey gun bill, which will expand background checks to include most gun sales, in its entirety, he was skeptical of it because it would impede on the rights of law-abiding gun owners and would “do nothing to keep criminals from buying” guns. He said focusing on gun control wasn’t the way to prevent future shootings like the one in Newtown — instead, he said the country needed to focus on addressing violence and mental health issues in general, citing the decline of the American family as a reason for increased gun violence in the country.
Rubio’s comments are in line with the NRA’s position on gun control legislation: in a letter to the Senate, NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox said Congress needed to “fix our broken mental health system” rather than “infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre has also made comments similar to Rubio’s, recently claiming Connecticut’s new gun laws have only made “the lawbooks bigger for the law-abiding people.” But Rubio’s statements aren’t surprising: in March, he joined a group of Republicans that threatened to block gun control legislation in the Senate.