Rubio: No, stronger gun laws wouldn't have prevented San Bernardino terrorist attack

How does Marco Rubio know that? We’ll get to that in a moment, but he’s right — and the CBS News team interviewing Rubio on This Morning seems to know it, too. Passing more laws in the wake of these shootings that do nothing to solve the problems that allowed them to occur only punishes the law-abiding, Rubio argues, and ignores the larger problem of violence in our culture (via The Hill):


“None of these crimes that have been committed or in this case what I believe is a terror attack in California would have been prevented by the expanded background checks,” Rubio said.

He added, “This terrorist 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 done anything before who suddenly become radicalized and within months are taking action.”

“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 would have prevented them,” Rubio continued.

How do we know this? The Washington Post profiled a few states that have tougher gun laws than the federal government. Guess which state has the toughest gun laws? Oh, let’s not always see the same hands:

Notably, the strictest state in the nation is California, where two attackers killed 14 people and injured 21 at an office holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday. …

If you’re a gun owner in California, you must:

  • Pass a universal background check, no matter where you buy your gun
  • Wait at least 10 days to receive that gun (the idea here is to give law enforcement enough time to conduct the background check)
  • Get your handgun microstamped, which means the make, model and serial number of the gun is transferred to each cartridge case every time the gun is fired (the idea is to allow police at a crime scene to trace a gun back to its owner)
  • Take and pass a written safety test

You can’t:

  • Own most assault weapons or buy and sell large-capacity ammunition magazines or .50 caliber rifles
  • Buy your gun through a private sale, like online or via a friend, without first going through a licensed dealer (and thus getting a background check)
  • Buy more than one handgun a month

Despite these restrictions, California had by far and away the largest number of firearm homicides in the nation in 2013, according to the FBI — almost four times as many as Illinois, for instance, while having slightly under three times as many people as in the Land of Lincoln. California had a firearm homicide rate of roughly 3.22 per 100,000 in 2013; Illinois, with its tough gun-control regimen in Chicago, had a 2.82 per 100,000 rate. By comparison, Arizona – cited as having the third-most lax gun laws in the nation by the Post – had a firearm homicide rate of 2.75 per 100,000 in 2013. (Louisiana, which came in first as most lax, does has a pretty awful 7.57 per 100,000 rate for 2013.)

That data makes pretty clear that the solutions proposed in the wake of two mass shootings, which actually fall short of what already is in place in California, wouldn’t have stopped or prevented either attack. It’s the same solutions offered after each of the recent mass shootings, usually offered in the immediate aftermath before all facts have emerged, especially those which relate to these purported solutions. Those solutions mainly consist of gun-control hobby horses rather than a rational analysis of where the risks and opportunities actually exist. Rubio’s correct that these proposals would literally solve nothing, especially since the federal government doesn’t usually bother to follow up on failed background checks anyway, and most people planning to commit these kinds of shootings often find their weapons through other channels.


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