Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on Sunday praised people for buying handguns to protect themselves from ISIS.
When asked by CBS’s “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson why he had purchased a handgun on Christmas Eve, Rubio said that personal firearms are “the last line of defense against ISIS.”
“I have a right to protect my family,” said Rubio, a Florida senator. “I think many Americans around the country feel the same way … If ISIS were to visit us, or our communities, at any moment, the last line of defense between ISIS and my family is the ability that I have to protect my family from them, or from a criminal, or anyone else who seeks to do us harm. Millions of Americans feel that way.”
ISIS is in Syria and Iraq, and does not have the capacity to launch an assault on the United States. American counterterrorism officials have raised concerns, however, about the ability for ISIS to inspire homegrown terrorists inside the U.S. That is yet to materialize — the San Bernardino attacks were “inspired” not by ISIS, but by al Qaeda and the recorded speeches of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by an American airstrike in 2011.
Many critics of U.S. gun laws have argued that the ease with which people can purchase firearms domestically enables those with terrorist motives to access weapons they need to commit violent acts.
Rubio’s praise for citizens arming themselves against ISIS echoes a common argument from gun enthusiasts. Easy access to guns, they argue, makes it easier for citizens to shoot mass shooters and other violent people when they begin killing people. Armed civilians almost never break up mass shootings.
More than 12,900 Americans were killed by guns in 2015.