Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was gunned down in her Florida high school, held himself together admirably to confront Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at the CNN town hall tonight.
GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, I just listened to your opening, and thank you. I want to like you. Here's the problem. And I'm a brutally honest person so I'm just going to say it up front.
RUBIO: Yes, sir.
GUTTENBERG: When I like you, you know it. When I'm pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak. [ cheers and applause ] So you and I are now eye to eye. Because I want to like you. Look at me and tell me: Guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns. [ cheers and applause ]
RUBIO: Fred, Fred, I'm not -- first of all, what I -- let me explain what I said this week, and I'll repeat it. I'll repeat what I said. [audience reacting ] Then I'll tell what you I'm going to do. I'm going to talk about what I said this week. I said that the problems that we are facing --
GUTTENBERG: Let him speak. I think we need to hear it.
RUBIO: I'm saying that the problems we face here today cannot be solved by gun laws alone. I'll tell you -- guns the factor in the hunting of our kids --
Of course they were. Number one, Fred, I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle. I will support a law that takes that right away.
RUBIO: I will support -- I will support the banning of bump stocks. I know the president has ordered the attorney general to do it and if he doesn't, we should do it by law. I will support changing our background system so that it includes more information than it includes now. And that all states across the country are required or incentivized to report all the information into it. And let me tell what you I've done already. Last year, when we came up with our budget in the Senate, I pushed for and got approved $50 million a year through the Sandy Hook initiative to provide a threat assessment fund for all states, to be able to stand up in each of the school districts a way to identify people who could potentially do this. And get ahead of it before it happens. I support -- I support moving forward on that initiative and making it widely available for everyone around the country. Now, I think what you're asking about is the assault weapons ban.
GUTTENBERG: Yes, sir.
RUBIO: So let me be honest with you about that one. If I believed that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it. [ audience reacting ]
I want to explain why it would not.
GUTTENBERG: Senator Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at marjory stoneman douglas was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice.
RUBIO: Yes, sir.
GUTTENBERG: Okay? It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that, I'm sorry.
RUBIO: Sir, I do believe what you're saying is true. [ cheers and applause ] I do believe -- I do believe what you're saying is true. I do believe what you're saying -- [ audience reacts ]
JAKE TAPPER: Everyone, everyone, the senator has a right to be heard. He's answering Mr. Guttenberg's question.
RUBIO: I do believe what you're saying is true. I do believe that someone like this individual and anyone like him shouldn't have any gun, not this gun, any gun. If you'll indulge me for a minute to explain to you the problem. First you have to define what it is. If you look at the law and its definition, it basically bans 200 models of guns, 220 specific models of guns.
GUTTENBERG: Good. good.
RUBIO: Okay? But it allows legal 2000 other types of gun that are identical. Identical. [ audience reacts ] In the way they function, in how fast they fire, in the type of caliber they fire, in the way they perform, they are indistinguishable from the ones that become illegal and the only thing that separates the two types, the only thing that separates the two types is if you put a plastic handle grip on one it becomes banned, if it doesn't have a plastic handle grip, it does not become banned. Let me explain --
GUTTENBERG: Are you saying you will start with the 200 and work your way up?
RUBIO: I will explain to you what has happened.
GUTTENBERG: It's a place to start. We can do that.
RUBIO: Let me explain to you what's happened. In New York they passed that ban. And you know what they've done to get right around it? It took them 15 seconds to do it. They simply take the plastic tip off, they take the plastic grip off --
GUTTENBERG: So we don't start.
RUBIO: My belief remains that rather than continue to try to chase every loophole that's created, that's why it failed in '94, that's why they're getting around it in California, it's how they get around it in New York, is we should make sure that dangerous criminals, people who are deranged cannot buy any gun of any kind. That's what I believe a better answer will be.
GUTTENBERG: Okay. Your answer speaks for itself.