When the issue of gun violence came up briefly in last night’s Republican debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threw out a talking point I haven’t heard in a while.
“First of all, the only people that follow the law are law-abiding people. Criminals by definition ignore the law, so you can pass all the gun laws in the world, like the left wants. The criminals are going to ignore it because they are criminals.”
This generated applause, which is a shame, because it’s a terrible argument. Rubio’s pitch, in effect, is that there’s no point in passing gun laws to protect the public because “criminals by definition ignore the law.” But by that reasoning, why have any laws at all?
The far-right senator added that “the real issue is not what are people using to commit violence, but why are they committing the violence?”
“You can’t have a strong country without strong people, you cannot have strong people without strong values, and you cannot have strong values without strong families and the institutions in this country that defend and support those families.“Today, we have a left-wing government under this president that is undermining all of the institutions and society that support the family and teach those values.”
I see. So, the United States experiences routine, deadly gun violence because of … what, marriage equality? Is that why gun deaths should be blamed on President Obama and his “left-wing government”?
Rubio fared no better when the debate focus on foreign policy, ostensibly his signature issue. The senator argued, for example, “There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight.”
In reality, as Rubio should know, there’s nothing to suggest North Korea has “dozens of nuclear weapons,” and though North Korea is certainly dangerous, it’s highly unlikely it could strike California.
The Floridian added, “we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.” Rubio made a similar argument in March, and it was as ridiculous then as it is now.
The senator genuinely seems to believe he offers expertise on international affairs his GOP rivals lack, but few candidates stumble as often and as badly on matters of foreign policy and national security as Marco Rubio.