CBS Hounds Rubio on Gun Control: 'It Would Have Made A Difference' in Past

On Friday, the CBS This Morning anchors badgered Marco Rubio on his opposition to gun control. Gayle King touted Obama's words on the issue: "The President said...that it's far too easy for people to get weapons, and that we need to figure out a way to make it harder for them. In this particular case...it wouldn't have made a difference. But there are so many other cases it seems...that it would have made a difference." King later wondered, "What about the freedom of Americans to go to the mall; to go to church; to go to school?" [video below]

Charlie Rose introduced Senator Rubio by spotlighting how "the Senate voted last night to repeal much of ObamaCare, but it failed to pass new gun control measures....Four Republican senators voted for expanded background checks. Presidential candidate Marco Rubio was not one of them." He first asked, "Why don't I just start with that — in terms of why you did not." The Republican presidential contender answered, in part, that "none of these crimes that have been committed — or, in this case, what I believe was a terror attack in California — would have been prevented by the expanded background checks."

King followed up with her quote from the President (King donated to his presidential campaign in 2012), and made her "it would have made a difference" claim. The Florida senator shot this down: "None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us — would gun laws have prevented them. And in fact, many of them existed despite the fact that local jurisdictions had gun laws even stricter than what you find in other jurisdictions."

Later in the segment, Norah O'Donnell pressed the politician on background checks. Before the anchors moved on to the ongoing climate change conference in Paris, King took one more opportunity to mouth a pro-gun control talking point: "A lot of people mention mental health. But when you look at the shootings, in the majority of the cases, they aren't conducted by mentally-ill people...what about the freedom of Americans to go to the mall; to go to church; to go to school?"

The previous morning, Rose and King hounded Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on the gun control topic, and lobbied him to pass gun control legislation through Congress. Rose wondered, "Why don't you...call the President and say...Let's you and I start off and do something about this right now'?" King cried, "Surely, there can be something that can stop people from getting an AK-47....What is it gonna take to move the needle in Congress?"

The full transcript of the Marco Rubio interview from the December 4, 2015 edition of CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE: The Senate voted last night to repeal much of ObamaCare, but it failed to pass new gun control measures. They included expanding background checks to gun shows and online purchases; preventing people on the terror watch list from buying guns or ammunition; and stronger treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. Four Republican senators voted for expanded background checks. Presidential candidate Marco Rubio was not one of them.

The Florida senator is with us now in Studio 57. Senator, welcome back.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response; GOP Candidate on San Bernardino Rampage; Failed Senate Gun-Related Amendments Yesterday: -Expand background checks; -Ban people on Terrorist Watchlist from buying guns; -Strengthen treatment for mental illness & substance abuse"]

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

ROSE: Why don't I just start with that — in terms of why you did not.

RUBIO: Well, first of all, none of these crimes that have been committed — or, in this case, what I believe was a terror attack in California — would have been prevented by the expanded background checks. The fact of the matter is, these individuals would have passed an expanded background check. These individuals in California — this terrorist that — that was able to access these weapons — is not someone that would have wound up in any database. And this is one of the risks of home-grown violent extremism. These are not people that have ever done anything before — who suddenly become radicalized; and within months, are taking action.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On Votes Against Background Checks"]

GAYLE KING: But the President said yesterday that it's far too easy for people to get weapons, and that we need to figure out a way to make it harder for them. In this particular case, you're right — it wouldn't have made a difference. But there are so many other cases it seems, Senator, that it would have made a difference.

RUBIO: No. None of the — none of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us — would gun laws have prevented them. And in fact, many of them existed despite the fact that local jurisdictions had gun laws even stricter than what you find in other jurisdictions.

We have a violence problem in America, and we should be concerned about the violence problem—

ROSE: And why is that?

RUBIO: Well, I think there are deep societal—

ROSE: Why do we have so much more gun violence than any other industrialized country?

RUBIO: Well, interestingly, it's not just gun violence — non-gun violence, too. I mean, even non-gun-related murders are up. And, you know, first of all, about — over 60 percent, or about 60 percent of the gun deaths in America are due to suicide. That's a terrible thing. The other remaining 40 percent of the gun deaths, a significant percentage of them are due to other crimes that are being committed, and in the process, a gun is used. And then, you have these horrifying incidents that occur.

But if you look at it more broadly, I think the fundamental question needs to be: why is there so much violence in America? And it's a combination of cultural changes that have occurred in our country, and mental health issues as well.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On Gun Rights And Public Safety"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: Just quickly: you generally agree background checks are a good thing?

RUBIO: Well, I think background checks that are properly conducted — like in Florida, for example, you already have to undergo a background check. I have a concealed weapons permit. So that means that my background check is done by telephone — not a three-day wait period and so forth.

But what they're trying to do now would not solve any of these problems; and, in fact, would impede the Second Amendment right of a large number of Americans.

O'DONNELL: Yeah, but I'm just wondering why: given that background checks are commonplace now in the law of the land, why wouldn't you do them for online gun sales and gun shows?

RUBIO: Because you're putting an incredible burden on people. The gun show thing — it's not a gun show loophole. People keep saying that. It is, an individual I decide I want to sell my gun to — a friend of mine — so now, you have put an extraordinary burden on me to go out and conduct a background check. And I'm liable if I get it wrong. As an individual, it's just very difficult to implement; almost impossible to enforce; and it ignores the fact that despite the background checks that we're seeing now, people are still getting access to these weapons.

KING: Well, you mentioned mental health. A lot of people mention mental health. But when you look at the shootings, in the majority of the cases, they aren't — they aren't conducted by mentally-ill people. You think about — what about the freedom of Americans to go to the mall; to go to church; to go to school? What about — people talk about the rights of the mentally ill. What about the rights of average Americans who just want to live in a world where we can conduct—

ROSE: But increasingly, live in fear.

KING: Yes!

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On Gun Violence And Mental Illness"]

RUBIO: Well — and clearly — I mean, violence is a big problem, and I think adding to that problem is the risk of home-grown violent extremism — which is the most challenging terrorism problem we have ever faced.

KING: So, what would you do?

RUBIO: Well, a couple of points: first of all, we have to have robust intelligence-gathering capabilities to disrupt plots. It's one of the reasons why I was opposed to this law that even some of my opponents running for president voted for — this USA Act that passed a few months ago. It took away the right to collect meta-data, which means that we can now — not access the phone records of individuals that we either suspect of being involved in terrorism, or who carry out an attack to see who they were coordinating and talking to. So that's just one example of things we need to do more of.

But ultimately — I will say this in — in full candor — it is going to be very hard to find someone who has never done anything wrong in their life; who was radicalized six months online; who's a U.S. citizen that has lived here their entire life and lives what seems to be a normal, every day life; and one day to the next, decides to join a radical jihadist movement and conduct an attack in the homeland. That is a very significant and difficult threat to confront.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On Fears Of Homegrown Terrorism"]

ROSE: But we'd better find an answer.

NORAH O'DONNELL: I want to ask you about what's happening in Paris, because we have 190 nations that are about to agree to a massive climate change deal. And I sat down with the President on Wednesday. I asked him about the criticism that you and some of the other Republican candidates have leveled at him. Let's listen.

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On President's Climate Change Agenda"]

O'DONNELL (from pre-recorded interview): When Chris Christie says, I don't see evidence that climate change is a crisis; when Marco Rubio says, not sure what percentage of it is due to man's activity — there's no consensus on it — you say what — they're just wrong?

RUBIO: They're absolutely wrong. (laughs) It's not — it's not subject to dispute. Mr. Rubio is from Florida, and you can go now to places in south Florida where, when the sun is out during high tide, you've got fish swimming in the streets because the flooding is so high. The evidence is there right now that drought, floods, storm surges, are hurting people right now. And that's only going to get worse.

O'DONNELL (live): Is the evidence—

RUBIO: Fish swimming in the street? We've had some flooding issues on Miami Beach, and one of the reasons might be because of some rise in the sea level. But primarily, it's because Miami and all of south Florida is built on a swamp. Miami Beach, for example, is an artificial island that was built because of dredging.

Look, whether the climate is changing or not is a measurable thing. In fact, it's always been changing. The fundamental issue for a policymaker is, what do we do about it? And everything the President is advocating for — even the scientists admit, we don't believe it would make a dramatic impact any time in the near future on any trends in the climate. But I can tell you, it would have a dramatic impact on our economy.

And here's one more point: the United States has already significantly reduced carbon emissions in comparison to other countries in the world. All the growth in carbon emissions over the next 30 years is going to come out of India and China and other developing countries, and they don't intend to do anything about it. No matter what document they're going to sign, they don't intend to do anything about it until their economy meets parity with ours—

[CBS News Graphic: "Rubio's Response: GOP Candidate On Impact of Climate Change"]

O'DONNELL: You don't — you — you don't believe that — that they're going to follow through on the deal that they're signing in Paris?

RUBIO: No! What deal has China ever followed through on? They signed a deal saying they wouldn't conduct cyber-attacks, and they're conducting cyber-attacks even now. They are not going to hamstring their economy. They have millions of people to employ and feed, and they're not going to cut back on that until they reach parity with us — which 30, 40 years from now—

ROSE: So, you're saying Paris is a farce?

RUBIO: I don't think they're going to arrive at any solution that's going to create — or arrive at any measures that are going to solve any problem. I do think there's the  potential for the United States to pursue policies that will be very harmful to our economy; and, basically, have no impact on our environment.

KING: All right. You're going back out on the campaign trail. If you could vote for a Republican, other than yourself, who would that be?

RUBIO: I'd vote for myself again! (Rubio, King, O'Donnell laugh)

KING: Fair enough—

RUBIO: Yeah. Don't ask me that question. I'd vote for myself. (laughs)

KING: I said if you had a choice—

ROSE: Would it be Donald Trump?

RUBIO: If I had a choice—

KING: Would it be Donald Trump—

RUBIO: Well, I'm going to support the Republican nominee. I don't believe that will be Mr. Trump. I think it's going to be me. I wouldn't be running for president if I didn't. So, let's be optimistic here, guys. (laughs)

KING: Okay—

O'DONNELL: Well, we will continue to watch—

KING: That's our middle name—

RUBIO: Thank you—

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Senator Rubio. Thank you.

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Congress Regulation Guns Labeling War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CBS CBS This Morning Video Gayle King Charlie Rose Norah O'Donnell Marco Rubio Barack Obama
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