Sen. Marco Rubio has come under fire by protesters at Saturday's "March For Our Lives" rally for accepting donations from the National Rifle Association, but he said he commends the marchers in Washington and across the nation for exercising their First Amendment rights.
"I commend those who today are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to march in favor of a gun ban," the Florida Republican said in a statement. "While I do not agree with all of the solutions they propose, I respect their views and recognize that many Americans support certain gun bans."
Others, however, may not support a gun ban, but they want to prevent mass shootings.
"[They] view banning guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens that ultimately will not prevent these tragedies," said Rubio.
He added that protests are a "legitimate" way to make a point, but also change requires finding common ground with people who have opposing views.
"Common ground is how we were able to achieve the STOP School Violence Act, improvements to our background check system, propelling CDC studies on gun violence and now, a ban on bump stocks," said Rubio. "Finding common ground is what it will take to pass our red flag law so we can take guns away from dangerous people.”
Rubio also took on the situation on Twitter Saturday afternoon, tweeting twice about the protests.
In the first of his tweets, Rubio posted a quote from an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal from Paula Marantz Cohen, a dean and English professor at Drexel University.
“The most destructive aspect of our current politics is not the position that other side holds but the anger that this generates in those with different views," he quoted. "That anger is corrosive & dehumanizing. It’s the force tearing America apart”
Two hours later, Rubio tweeted again, saying that "Today many are peacefully exercising their #1A right to march for gun ban. Many support gun ban. But many others see it as infringement of #2A that won’t prevent shootings. Protest is good way of making a point, but making a change will require both sides finding common ground."
However, Rubio was attacked by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others during the rally Saturday, with many people wearing tags they'd printed online to draw attention to the amount of money he has accepted from the National Rifle Association.
One of the students from the Parkland school, Sarah Chadwick, explained that the tag, bearing the price $1.05, was a figure that represents taking the 3,104,167 students enrolled in Florida's schools and dividing it by 3,303,355, representing the amount of just over $3.3 million Rubio has received from the NRA.
"I say one life is worth more than all the guns in America," Chadwick, a junior, said. "This is not a red versus blue issue. This is a morals issue. And to the politicians that believe that their right to own a gun comes before our lives, get ready to get voted out by us. The future. We will not allow a price to be put upon our lives."
On Friday, President Donald Trump said the Department of Justice will propose to ban bump stocks, while seeking feedback from the public before it makes its final ruling.
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