Although Congressional elections are just around the corner, it’s never too early to look forward to the next presidential election, and you can be certain that the Republican hopefuls are already putting their name and ideology out there in order to drum up support for their candidacy.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida appears to be doing just that, letting the (mostly Republican) faithful of the NRA know that he stands unambiguously on the side of gun rights and the Second Amendment during a convention in Indianapolis. In a speech where he passionately defended the right to bear arms, Rubio made no bones about his opinion on this hot-topic issue.
Central to Rubio’s speech was the idea that the American dream is not just prosperity but also security. The only true security, he claims, lies in the ability to own a firearm and protect one’s family. He highlighted the need for self-protection again, emphasizing the value of a firearm.
It’s a position that gun advocates strongly agree with: look no further than Front Page Magazine, which claims that over 3,600 rapes per day are prevented by women who have a firearm. Self-protection has always been a staple of the GOP gun rights platform, as well as the NRA’s belief in the right of an individual to own firearms.
Rubio did his best to suggest that the United States was unique amongst all the world in that only Americans have a constitutional right to own firearms, claiming that gun-control advocates believed the United States to be the sole exclusion to global law restricting firearms; Rubio stated that this always gave him great pride.
Despite Rubio’s enthusiasm for firearms, he failed to research the fact that not only many other nations not only have gun rights written into their national constitutions, but some (namely Switzerland and Israel) provide their citizens with guns free of charge for the purpose of mandatory military training.
Ironically, he noted that there would be “no shortage” of misrepresentations of his speech or the other speakers at the convention in the media after the fact.
Regardless of the fact checking, it’s clear that Rubio’s speech in Indianapolis was an attempt to increase his reputation amongst the NRA conventioneers, the vast majority of whom vote for GOP candidates. In fact, the Washington Post reports that registered NRA members side with Republicans over Democrats by a huge margin: 98% vote for Republican candidates, one of the most one-sided voting blocs amongst all major national recreation groups.
Yet Rubio’s stance on gun rights isn’t exactly as sterling as his speech to the conventioneers would have illustrated. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Florida Senator has less-than-perfect grades issued by the NRA for gun rights advocacy, having earned a B and B+ in the past two years in office, below the sterling A that Senators like Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe (or even Montana’s Democratic Senator Max Baucus) boast.
Rubio faces the uphill battle of promoting his name amongst the Republican voting blocs over the next two years. He lacks the name power of some potential Republican candidates like Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, or Chris Christie. As of yet, however, he’s yet to put his foot in his mouth by either siding with President Obama in public (as Christie did) or making wildly inaccurate statements on hot-button issues (as Cruz did).
If Rubio can continue to appear passionate about traditionally Republican issues, there’s no reason to think he can’t emerge ahead of the pack for the 2016 election.