WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday that he does not support expanding criminal background checks for the purchase of firearms, arguing that such laws will not catch those who choose to violate the law. In the process, however, he appeared to acknowledge a logical glitch in the oft-stated talking point used by the National Rifle Association.
"Criminals don't care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns," Rubio said on ABC's "This Week." "They never follow the law -- that's why they are criminals."
Such legal nihilism has been expressed repeatedly by the NRA in the months since the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Rarely, however, have supporters of the NRA's position acknowledged the logical absurdity of the claim so straightforwardly. Laws make certain actions illegal; anyone who refuses to follow a law is, by definition, a criminal. Arguing that passing laws cannot solve problems because the laws will be violated implies that Congress is helpless to solve problems.
Rubio later repeated the argument on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"My skepticism about gun laws is criminals don't follow the law. They don't care what the law is, you can pass any law you want and criminals won't follow it, by definition."
"Criminals don't follow the laws on burglary and on murder and on auto theft," host Bob Schieffer countered. "And I think most people would say those laws are fairly effective."
Rubio also told "This Week" that people who fail background checks under current law should be prosecuted for attempting to buy guns illegally.
"Are we going to start prosecuting people that are trying to buy guns and fail a background check? Because they are not prosecuting those right now," Rubio said. "Are we going to honor conceal-carry permits from across state lines? Because someone who has a conceal-carry permit has been background checked. That's why they have one. Are we going to honor those in a gun show in other parts of the country? I think that should be part of the bill."
The point of the background check compromise negotiated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is to require background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows. Background checks are currently not required for such sales.