Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said Sen. Marco Rubio’s efforts to repeal the District’s gun laws despite his support for certain federal limits on the purchase of guns are “the height of hypocrisy.”
Following a public outcry for stricter gun control after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting last month, Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed a plan to strengthen background checks and said he would explore changes involving age limits and reducing magazine capacity.
Last year, Rubio reintroduced a bill he pushed previously to erase the District’s gun-control laws, which are among the most restrictive in the nation. One provision would require police in the nation’s capital to issue concealed-carry permits to any resident or visitor who meets basic criteria.
In an op-ed in Friday’s Miami Herald, Bowser (D) said Rubio’s position on federal and D.C. laws is at odds and told him to back off.
“It is unconscionable for him to tell his Florida constituents and colleagues that he is listening to their concerns and trying to do better, while simultaneously pushing legislation that would exacerbate the problem for Washingtonians,” Bowser wrote. “We do not need more guns on our streets; we need common-sense gun reform. It is time for Rubio to show real leadership and withdraw his D.C. gun bills.”
She added, “We respectfully ask the senator to leave us alone.”
Last week, Bowser proposed legislation that would make it illegal to possess or sell bump stocks, the devices that accelerate the firing of semiautomatic weapons, in a largely symbolic move designed to force Congress to take a stand on them.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, noted how the families of Parkland victims have accused Rubio of being beholden to the National Rifle Association, a claim he has denied.
“Senator Rubio is under national attack for his straight NRA record on guns, so he scurried to the Senate floor with a ‘plan to address gun violence.’ ” she said in a statement released last week. “That ‘plan’ is not credible because it is contradicted by his pending D.C. gun bill.”
Through a spokeswoman, Rubio said changes to federal law would also apply to the District. He did not address officials’ concerns that federal limits on firearms are less strict than D.C. laws.
“If passed, this bill would bring D.C. into compliance with federal law,” Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Rubio, said in a statement. “If federal law is changed on the purchase age for semiautomatic rifles, then D.C. law would be changed as well.”
Rubio first filed his D.C. legislation in 2014, when a new employee in his Capitol Hill office, a young woman living alone, wanted to bring two legally acquired handguns to the District for protection after a shooting occurred near her building.
She considered the D.C. permitting process complicated enough to require time off work to complete it, leading Rubio to conclude that only a law-abiding citizen would undertake such a cumbersome process, according to his office.
Bowser added that she wants Rubio to withdraw his D.C. bill before the March For Our Lives, which she plans to attend March 24 with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the deadly shooting.