Marco Rubio backs gun reforms at bruising town hall with Parkland shooting survivors
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who is moderating bipartisan negotiations on immigration at the Capitol in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Marco Rubio backs gun reforms at bruising town hall with Parkland shooting survivors

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday night that he backs gun reform measures — such as raising the age to purchase rifles, limiting the size of gun magazines and legislation that would allow immediate family members to prevent fellow family members from buying guns.

Rubio publicly announced those positions during a town hall hosted by CNN with survivors and family members who lost loved ones in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

“I absolutely believe that in this country if you are 18 years of age, you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away,” Rubio said at the town hall event.

Rubio was confronted by both student survivors and parents who lost children in the shooting. It was a tough audience for the Florida Republican, who in the immediate aftermath of the shooting last week said it was too soon to talk about gun control.

“Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak,” Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime in the shooting, told Rubio at the town hall — comments that brought loud cheers from the audience.

And that wasn’t the only tough moment Rubio faced.

Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting, pressed Rubio on whether he’d stop accepting contributions from the National Rifle Association.

Rubio refused.

“The answer is, people buy into my agenda,” Rubio said. “The influence of any group, the influence of these groups comes not from money, the influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda.”

Still, Rubio’s public announcement that he will support gun reform measures is a far cry from his comments just a few days ago.

A day after the shooting, Rubio took to the Senate floor to say the gun reform measures being proposed “would not have prevented, not just yesterday’s tragedy, but any of those in recent history.”

Rubio also voted against strengthening background checks in 2013, a bill introduced in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.