Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today to announce a plan to address gun violence and school shootings. Among the elements of the proposal are gun violence restraining orders, additional funding to increase school security, improvements to the background check system, and prosecution for those who are prohibited from buying guns but still attempt to do so.
Watch Rubio’s speech below, and a rough partial transcript as provided by his Senate office (emphasis in original) is after the video.
Note his comments at just before the 10 minute mark, imploring his colleagues to not get mired down in the divisive gun control debate, and instead move forward with a bill that has more widespread support:
But ultimately, there are things we can do that have widespread, bipartisan support, that we can act on, that we can get passed, that will actually make a difference…And I just urge the Senate and the House, all of my colleagues here: do not hold hostage a piece of legislation that would work and that we all support, because it doesn’t have everything you want.
There are things we can act on and do and there are things we can continue to argue over, debate and perhaps do in the future. But on the things that we agree on, and they happen to be things that could have possibly prevented this attack and will prevent future attacks — let’s get those done. I’ve outlined those here today; there may be others. But we owe it not just to the families and victims of Parkland, but to all Americans everywhere.
For this attack may have happened in southern Florida, but there’s no reason why it can’t happen somewhere else, and I fear will happen somewhere else if we do not fix the deficiencies and flaws in our polices and in our laws, and in the way they are enforced. We have learned from this incident what is wrong with our system. Let us fix it.
Two weeks ago the tragic incident in Parkland, one of many that has impacted our country over the last decade and beyond, and both that community in Parkland, Florida, and the residents of the state of Florida that I represent, and, frankly, the entire nation have demanded not just action, but immediate action. We know, and anyone who watches this process is well aware, that there are deep differences on how far and how much we should restrict the Second Amendment right of every American. We know that there are deep differences about whether or not some of those proposed restrictions work. And I imagine that those debates and those differences will not be easily resolved and will continue. But I also know that there is widespread support and agreement that we must act now as soon as possible to do everything we can to prevent another tragedy like Parkland from happening anywhere else ever again.
And what I’ve tried to do over the last couple of weeks is to try to determine what changes in federal law would not only could have prevented this attack but could prevent future one. In that vein, I met with federal law enforcement investigators involved not just this case but in gun laws in general. I met with students and with teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School including two teachers that were injured in the attack. I ‘ve met with school board administrators, with the community at large, including an appearance last week at a nationally televised town hall. I’ve been in constant contact with several of the parents of victims who lost their lives. And I’ve also spoken to experts in firearm sales. I’ve spoken to a number of federally licensed firearm dealers that talk to you about the some of the frustrations they have with our existing law and their inability to address people that ultimately turn out to be individuals who should not own any gun of any kind.
So today I wanted to come here and announce a comprehensive plan. Not a simple bill that you just vote on and move on, but a series of measures that I believe could prevent these attacks before they happen and also help schools protect their students and their teachers. I believe these ideas should all enjoy bipartisan support and, if passed, could and should help prevent the next potential mass shooting. These are ideas I outlined not just because they work but because I believe we can get the votes to pass them, 60 votes in the Senate, a majority in the House and the signature of a president. That’s what it takes to turn an idea to a law. These are ideas that I think will enjoy that widespread support.
Furthermore, during my visit to the site of the attack and my follow up meeting with the teachers at the schools, I learned of various changes to school facilities and practices which could have stopped the attack or improved the response. Therefore, I will be joining later today with Senator Orrin Hatch and others in introducing the Stop School Violence Act. If passed this law would provide federal grants to do some important things that would have been really helpful in this case: strengthen security infrastructure, provide school training for everyone, administrators, teachers, and even students to be able to identify threats, and to report them. Something that really would be helpful is the creation of school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams. There is a successful program in Los Angeles that does this. And that is a team that’s a coordination between law enforcement, other state agencies, school districts and the like, where they are all talking to each other about students and former students that may pose a threat of violence and intervene before they act.
A second issue we identified is that even if law enforcement, school administrators or family members believe that an individual poses the risk of committing an act of violence, they have very few options to prevent them from purchasing any gun or taking the guns away that they already have. Therefore I intend to present a new law, perhaps in coordination with others that are working on it now, that will lead to the creation of Gun Violence Restraining Orders, something that will give law enforcement and close family members the option of obtaining a court order to prevent gun sales or remove guns from individuals who pose a threat. And to be clear, the due process in such a situation would be on the front end, not on the back end.
The third issue we uncovered is that federal law appears to discourage school systems from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement. I don’t support criminalizing all school misconduct, but a student who has threatened violence, who has exhibited violent behavior needs to be reported to law enforcement. A student that has committed a crime by issuing a threat of death using social media, that is a crime under Florida law. That needs to be reported. Under Broward county school policies pursuant to something called the Promise program, reporting a student, a dangerous one, to law enforcement is the sixth step – step six – in their plan. Therefore, I intend to propose changes to the federal youth PROMISE program so that a school district plan under this program does not delay and does not discourage law enforcement from being alerted to dangerous, violent or hazardous behavior.
Fourth, we need to strengthen background checks. And that’s why I’ve joined with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle pushing for the immediate passage of Fix NICS, something that will require all federal agencies and incentivize every state to fully report relevant information to the national background check database. Because a background check is only as good as the information that is on it. And this deranged killer was able to buy guns on ten separate occasions because he would have passed any background check because none of this stuff known about him was reported to that system.
Fifth, we must begin to prosecute the purchase of gun by people prohibited from doing so. Next week, I hope to be joining a bipartisan group led by Senators Toomey and Coons in filing the ‘Lie and Try’ bill,’ which will require the FBI to notify states when someone who is not allowed to buy a gun tries to buy a gun and fails the background check so they can be investigated, so they can be prosecuted. In addition, we will be presenting a new law to provide more prosecutors to go after straw purchases, which is where someone goes buys a gun on behalf of someone else because that someone else could not pass the background check.
There are things that could have possibly prevented this attack and will prevent future attacks. Let’s get those done. I’ve outlined those here today – there may be others. But we owe it not just to the families and victims of Parkland, but to all Americans everywhere. For this attack may have happened in southern Florida, but there’s no reason why it can’t happen somewhere else.
We have learned from this incident what is wrong with this system. Let us fix it. And we have an opportunity to do so while we continue to debate and work on the issues that we do not agree on. And that is what I hope we will do. And that is what I commit to doing everything I can to achieve.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.
[Cross-posted at The Capitolist.]