Rubio: My legislation will actually fix the failures that led to Parkland massacre

That certainly would provide a change from most Congressional responses to mass shootings. Usually, those involve (a) posturing and pandering to political activists, (b) demanding ridiculous legislation that are non-sequiturs to the catalyzing event, and (c) blaming everyone else when nothing passes. In fact, that’s been the pattern on immigration, spending, VA scandals … you get the picture.

Marco Rubio announced earlier today that he will introduce a series of bills that will have the novelty of plugging the holes in existing systems and laws that allowed the shooter to buy weapons and go on his killing spree. The most prominent is the advancement of gun-violence restraining orders (GVROs), a tool that might help prevent dangerous people from using firearms — assuming that law enforcement does its job:

“People saw something. And people said something,” he added, saying somehow the “deranged and violent” suspect was able to take the lives of 17 people.

Rubio said he intends to introduce a new bill that will lead to the creation of gun violence restraining orders, which give law enforcement and family the chance to acquire restraining orders to keep someone who poses a threat from purchasing guns, and gives law enforcement the ability to take those guns away temporarily.

As Rubio notes, GVROs would allow for due process “up front,” before confiscation, rather than the other way around as Trump blurted out in the listening session yesterday. A respondent to such an action would have his/her day in court to answer allegations that he/she presents a threat to others before a court could order any weapons be confiscated. The GVRO would then be reported to the federal background check database, preventing the (legal) purchase of firearms until the restraining order gets lifted. It may not be a perfect system, but it’s reasonable and focuses on specific potential threats rather than punishing millions of law-abiding gun owners.

However, the idea does have one hole in it. What happens when law enforcement fails to act, allowing a threat to metastasize without a record of prosecution? Rubio cites the dozens of opportunities law enforcement and the school district had to stop the Parkland shooter before he showed up at the school with an AR-15. Rubio wants to end the Department of Education’s “Promise” program, and also wants to strengthen background checks and prosecute those who attempt to bluff their way through it:

  • Under Broward County schools’ policies, according to the school promise program, reporting a potentially dangerous student to law enforcement is the sixth step in the process, not the first.
  • Someone who attempts to buy a gun and is prohibited from doing so should be investigated and prosecuted, Rubio said.
  • Strengthening background check communication through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

I’ll have more on the “Promise” program in a later post, but suffice it to say that while the program is clearly misguided, it doesn’t let local officials off the hook in this case. These other proposals are common-sense steps to ensure better compliance as well as highlighting threats before they become acute. The issues of failing to submit timely information to the background-check database and to follow up on failed background checks have been repeatedly raised over the last several years, but attempts to fix those problems have foundered because Democrats have blocked common-sense solutions in order to push unpopular gun grabs and other gun-control legislation.

There’s not much to suggest that this time will be any different, but Rubio deserves credit for taking the lead in attempting to build enough support for effective solutions. He won’t get it from either side of the political divide, but he deserves it nonetheless.