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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Says Rubio’s New ‘Plan to Address Gun Violence’ Not Credible as His Pending Bill to Eliminate Nearly All Gun Safety Laws in the Nation’s Capital Stays in Place

Mar 1, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced on the Senate floor his “plan to address gun violence,” especially in schools, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said that Rubio’s plan cannot be taken seriously until he withdraws his District of Columbia gun bill, which would eliminate most of D.C.’s gun safety laws, including the city’s total ban on guns in schools.  Rubio’s D.C. gun bill would also overturn D.C.’s bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and allow those under age 21 to purchase assault rifles.  A Rubio spokesperson recently told the Miami Herald that he would not withdraw his D.C. gun bill, despite his newfound support for raising the age to 21 to purchase a rifle and reconsideration of his opposition to a ban on high-capacity magazines.

“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.’” Norton said.  “That ‘plan’ is not credible because it is contradicted by his pending D.C. gun bill.  His plan includes making it harder for dangerous people to get guns, except his D.C. gun bill would make it easier for everyone, including those who cannot pass a background check, to legally buy and carry guns, including weapons of war, in the District and into its schools.”

Under Rubio’s D.C. gun bill, in D.C., the Parkland school shooter would have been able to legally buy an AR-15 and high-capacity magazines without undergoing a background check.

Rubio’s D.C. gun bill has two specific provisions dealing with guns in schools.  First, the bill would prohibit the District from banning guns in D.C. public schools unless a school “has implemented security measures (including guard posts, metal detection devices, x-ray or other scanning devices, or card-based or biometric access devices) to identify and exclude unauthorized or hazardous persons or articles….”  Some D.C. public schools may not meet this standard and, therefore, people with concealed carry licenses would be allowed to carry guns into such schools.

Second, the Rubio D.C. gun bill would create a unique exception to the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act for D.C. schools.  That act prohibits the possession of a gun in a school unless the person carrying is licensed to carry in the state in which the school is located.  However, under the bill, a person licensed outside D.C., no matter how lax that state’s requirements, could carry a concealed gun into a D.C. school.

Although a version of Rubio’s D.C. gun bill, which is sponsored in the House by Representative Tom Garrett (R-VA), has been introduced for more than a decade, Norton has consistently been able to defeat it.  Rubio first introduced the bill in 2015, just before announcing his candidacy for president, and, upon filing his bill, the NRA upgraded Rubio’s rating from a B-plus to an A.

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) has introduced a bill that would require D.C. to recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits, regardless of the state’s carry requirements. Norton has defeated similar bills for several years.

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