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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today announced a Senate plan to address gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting. This is his full statement.
“After the tragic events of February 14, the Parkland community, the residents of Florida, and the entire nation have demanded action. While there are sharp differences on restrictions to the 2nd Amendment, there is widespread agreement that we must act now to prevent another tragedy like Parkland from happening anywhere else, ever again.
Over the last two weeks, I have undertaken efforts to determine what changes in federal law could have prevented this attack. I have met with state and federal law enforcement investigators, students and teachers from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, including two teachers injured in the attack, school board administrators, and the community at large – including my appearance at a nationally televised CNN town hall last week. I have also been in constant contact with several of the parents of the victims who lost their lives. And I have spoken to experts in firearm sales including several federally licensed firearms dealers.
Based on these meetings and the input received, I believe this attack could have been prevented if current law had been fully enforced. This killer was a well-known danger to the school district and the Broward Sheriff’s office. He was also the subject of two separate and specific warnings to law enforcement agencies. People saw something and said something. And yet this deranged and violent individual was able to pass a background check and buy 10 separate firearms, and ultimately walk right into a public school and take the lives of 17 innocent Floridians.
This tragedy is the result of a massive multi-systemic failure involving federal, state and local authorities who failed to identify the threat he posed and coordinate a response to stop him before he took action. It is this failure which we should focus on by addressing the shortcomings and vulnerabilities in our current laws and policies.
Today I am announcing a comprehensive plan to prevent these attacks before they happen, and also help schools protect students and teachers. This plan should have widespread bi-partisan support, and if passed will help prevent the next potential mass shooting:
Our schools are woefully unprepared to prevent an attack before it occurs. Furthermore, during my visit to the site of the attack and my follow-up meeting with teachers at the school, I learned of various changes to school facilities and practices which could have stopped this attack or improved the response. Therefore I will be joining Senator Orrin Hatch in introducing the Stop School Violence Act. If passed, this law would provide federal grants to states to:
- strengthen school security,
- provide school training to identify threats, and;
- create school threat assessment and crisis intervention teams (like the successful program in Los Angeles) that in coordination with law enforcement agencies and school personnel identify students or former students who may pose a threat of violence and intervene to stop them before they act.
A second issue identified is that even if law enforcement, school administrators or family members believe an individual poses the risk of committing an act of violence, they have very limited options to prevent them from purchasing any gun or taking the guns they already have away. Therefore, I intend to present a new law that will lead to the creation of Gun Violence Restraining Orders 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 provide due process protections.
A third issue we have uncovered is that federal law appears to discourage school systems from reporting dangerous students to law enforcement. While I do not support criminalizing all school conduct, students who have threatened violence and exhibited violent behavior need to be reported to law enforcement so that appropriate action can be taken. Under Broward County School policies pursuant to the PROMISE program, reporting students to law enforcement is step 6 of the plan. Therefore, I will be proposing changes to the federal youth PROMISE program, so that a school district plan under the PROMISE program does not delay or discourage law enforcement from being alerted to dangerous, violent or hazardous behavior.
Fourth, we need to strengthen background checks. Therefore, we are pushing for the immediate passage of the Fix NICS Act which will require all federal agencies, and incentivize every state, to fully report all relevant information to the national background check database.
Fifth, we must begin to prosecute the purchase of guns by people prohibited from doing so. Next week, I will be joining a bi-partisan group of Senators in filing the “Lie and Try” bill, which will require the FBI to notify states when a prohibited person tries to buy a gun, and fails the required background check so they can be investigated and prosecuted. In addition, we will presenting a new law to provide more prosecutors to go after “Straw Purchases” where an individual who can pass a background check buys a gun for someone who could not pass a background check.
Finally, I will continue to explore additional reforms involving age limits and potentially magazine capacity. These reforms do not enjoy the sort of widespread support in Congress that the other measures announced today enjoy. In order to successfully achieve passage of these ideas, they will need to be crafted in a way that actually contributes to greater public safety, while also not unnecessarily or unfairly infringing on the 2nd Amendment right of all law abiding adults to protect themselves, hunt or participate in recreational shooting.”