Sen. Marco Rubio is defending his stance against a ban on semiautomatic rifles — claiming that the position is “well outside” mainstream opinion — after he signaled an openness to limited gun control measures at a CNN town hall on school shootings.
“Banning all semi-auto weapons may have been popular with the audience at #CNNTownHall, but it is a position well outside the mainstream,” the Florida Republican tweeted early Thursday morning.
He added, “Wonder if media will ask politicians demanding #GunControl if they support popular sentiment at #CNNTownHall for ban of all semi-auto rifle?”
Polls, however, show widespread support for bans on certain guns. Although the AR-15 — the weapon used in the Florida shooting — is not technically defined as an assault weapon, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac in the wake of the massacre found that 67% support a nationwide ban on assault weapon sales.
And a poll conducted by Pew in June 2017 found that 68% support banning assault-style weapons.
Rubio made news on Wednesday when he said he would support legislation to prevent an 18-year-old from buying a rifle and that he is reconsidering his support for large-capacity magazines.
The only Republican lawmaker on stage Wednesday night, Rubio argued against banning the AR-15.
“It’s not the loopholes. It’s the problem that once you start looking at how easy it is to get around it, you would literally have to ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America,” Rubio said, to which the crowd erupted into cheers seemingly in support of a ban.
“Fair enough, that is a valid position to hold, but my colleagues do not support banning every semi-automatic rifle sold in America,” Rubio argued.
Rubio was responding to Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch’s argument to “bring up the assault weapons ban and close all those loopholes.”