Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered an emotional speech on the Senate floor Wednesday following a mass shooting in a Texas school a day earlier.
The top Senate Republican put the blame clearly on the shooter, whom he described as a “deranged young man” and “maniac,” echoing the views of many Republicans that mental illness is the root cause of many of these recurring tragedies.
McConnell didn’t make any mention of the 18-year-old shooter’s easy access to high-powered weapons or any possible preventative legislative solutions.
In his speech, McConnell said it is “literally sickening to think of the innocent young lives stolen” and that he was praying for everyone involved.
In separate interviews with CNN, Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott pushed back on calls for AR-15s and semi-automatic weapons to be banned and dismissed demands for expanded background checks. Rubio instead said he would try to force a vote today on a measure to bolster school safety in other ways.
In a back-and-forth with CNN, Rubio contended that expanded background checks would not solve the problem and said even if Washington banned AR-15s, a killer would find a different weapon.
“Listen, at the end of day, you're arguing about what they're using to commit this, and the truth of matter is these people are going to commit these horrifying crimes whether they have to use another weapon to do it; they're going to figure out a way to do it,” Rubio said.
When asked about the prospect of banning AR-15s, Scott said, “I think we have in our Constitution our Second Amendment rights, and we shouldn’t take away rights for law-abiding citizens.”