POLITICS

Rubio and Cruz defend pro-gun stance in aftermath of San Bernardino shooting

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 (Getty Images)

In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both proclaiming their support of gun rights in the U.S. and saying that stricter firearm laws will not prevent massacres in California.

Speaking to "CBS This Morning" on Friday, Rubio defended his vote against an amendment that would have kept firearms out of the hands of those on the terror watch list and reiterated his stance that strict gun laws won't prevent mass shootings.

"None of these crimes that have been committed, or in this case what I believe is a terror attack in California, would have been prevented by the expanded background checks," Rubio said.

The Florida senator added, "This terrorist that was able to access these weapons is not someone that would have wound up in any database and this is one of the risks of home-grown violent extremism. These are not people that have done anything before who suddenly become radicalized and within months are taking action."

"None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us would gun laws have prevented them," Rubio continued.

The Senate on Thursday was unable to pass a new gun control amendment tied to the Obamacare repeal bill, which would have stymied the sale of firearms to those on the terror watch list and expanded background checks at gun shows.

Rubio defended his opposition to the amendment by saying that it would infringe upon U.S. citizens right to carry.

"I have a concealed weapons permit so that means that my background check is done by telephone, not a three-day wait period and so forth," Rubio said. "But what they are trying to do now would not solve any of these problems, and in fact, would impede the Second Amendment right of a large number of Americans."

Just hours before he was slated to appear at an Iowa shooting range, Cruz announced his campaign's "Second Amendment Coalition" — a group that has signed on more than 24,000 people who support the right to bear arms.

A spokesperson for Cruz said that the Texas lawmaker is not going to back down from his strong pro-gun stance in the wake of the incident in San Bernardino.

"He'll absolutely make note of what happened. But he is not going to back down or try to glaze over the importance of standing for our 2nd Amendment rights," Catherine Frazier, Cruz's national press secretary, told ABC News. "It's an appropriate conversation to have in the wake of this shooting with liberals coming right out of the gate calling for more gun control and policies that would dilute our Second Amendment rights."

Cruz's stop at the Crossroads Shooting Sports in Johnstown, Iowa, marked the second time the candidate will visit the shooting range. The first came only days after the deadly shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, when a white supremacist killed nine people in a traditionally African-American church.

Analysts said that Cruz's shooting appearance is a politically risky move that could either paint him as insensitive to those killed in California or as a candidate who is taking a serious approach to the tragedy and looking presidential.

"Instead of throwing pro-gun stuff around to rally the base, saying what they want to hear, this is a time for him to be very thoughtful," said Iowa Republican strategist Craig Robinson. "It has the potential to send a bad image. There's no doubt about that. But, there's also the potential to send a good image."

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