Marco Rubio Goes All-In on Guns Following Debate

PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. holds a rifle after being asked to pose for photographs during a campaign stop, Jan. 15, 2016, at Sturm, Ruger & Co., in Newport, N.H.PlayMatt Rourke/AP Photo
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seems to be doubling down on gun control following the most recent Republican presidential debate.

In New Hampshire on Friday, Rubio stopped by a gun store for a bit of retail politics. He later held a rally at Sturm, Ruger & Co., a firearms manufacturing company in Newport, where he was gifted a rifle.

“My wife and I, we're gun owners,” he told the company’s employees. “This our first rifle in our home. It will be a nice addition.”

Rubio also revealed he purchased a handgun on Christmas Eve this year, though he was already a firearms owner.

“The store was packed with young people who weren’t just there to buy ammunition,” Rubio said. "They were fearful of what was going on."

Rubio said they feared President Obama or his administration making it harder for "law-abiding people like them" to buy guns, something he also mentioned during Thursday's debate.

“I am convinced if this president could confiscate every gun, he would,” Rubio said. “Look, the Second Amendment is not an option. It is not a suggestion. It is a right.”

Asked what evidence he could provide to back that up, Rubio brought up Obama’s recent executive order on guns.

“I see how he works with the attorney general, not to defend the Second Amendment but to figure out ways to undermine it," he said. "I have seen him appoint people to our courts not to defend the Second Amendment but figure out ways to undermine it."

The Tampa Bay Times has reported that gun ownership for Rubio coincided with his Senate campaign. Rubio bought his first gun, a .357 Magnum, in February 2010.

According to the Florida paper, “In September 2009, while he was running for the Senate, Rubio went through training for the permit (…) Rubio said he decided to get a permit because he talks a lot about the 2nd Amendment on the campaign trail and wanted to show the importance of safety. He wanted to lead ‘by example.’”

Rubio, who holds an A rating from the National Rifle Association, has now incorporated a staunch defense of the Second Amendment into his stump speech. He mentioned it at all four stops in New Hampshire this weekend, and has regularly taken aim at his perceived rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for having once supported some gun control. Christie has responded by citing all the gun control measures he has vetoed as governor.

“If God forbid, ISIS visits our life, our neighborhood, our school, any part of us, the last thing standing, the last line of defense could very well be our ability to protect ourselves,” Rubio told voters at another campaign stop in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday. “When I am president, I will never undermine that.”

Brothers Ryan and Michael McCarty, who attended Rubio’s stop in Sioux Center, said they appreciated Rubio's focus on the Second Amendment.

“I think there’s a little sensationalism there, but I think using ISIS as a focal point to try to get people to understand the importance of the Second Amendment is vital,” said Ryan McCarty, 24.

“The idea of ISIS coming to my home, a little bit of a fear tactic there, but the overall idea that we have Second Amendment rights -- I’m definitely with him on that,” added his 27-year-old brother Michael.

Rubio has also argued that he believes gun laws are pointless.

“You can pass all the gun laws you want,” he said Saturday. "Criminals don’t follow the law. That’s why they’re called criminals."

“The only thing these gun laws will do is impede our ability to protect our families,” he added.