Gun control activists call out Marco Rubio on NRA donations and inaction on legislation
Rubio. Image via AP.

Gun control advocates marked the fourth anniversary of Florida's worst school shooting by calling out the Senator's inaction.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has taken the sixth-most money from the gun lobby among all U.S. Senators, according to a group advocating for more gun regulation. And Democrats took the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the Parkland school shooting this week to call him out on it.

Rubio falls between Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Joni Ernst of Iowa in the total donations he’s received from the National Rifle Association. That’s according to the nonprofit Brady: United Against Gun Violence, formerly known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The nonprofit bears the name of Jim Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary shot in a 1981 presidential assassination attempt.

The group found that Rubio has received $3.3 million in National Rifle Association donations over his career. That’s enough that former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is asking who Rubio really works for. She hosted an online news conference Wednesday with three other gun control activists, including two mothers whose children were among those hiding in closets as a gunman shot his way through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“He is failing Florida,” argued Mucarsel-Powell, a senior advisor for Giffords, an advocacy organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was injured in a 2011 shooting. “He failed us when he decided not to support passing a universal background check bill in the Senate.”

Messages from Florida Politics to Rubio’s re-election campaign and his Washington office asking for a response went unreturned Wednesday. His campaign spokeswoman emailed the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, however, calling Mucarsel-Powell and Florida Democrats “hyperpartisan gun control advocates.”

“Nothing is ever enough,” Elizabeth Gregory, Rubio’s campaign spokeswoman, said of the Florida Democrats, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “In the aftermath of Parkland, Sen. Rubio sat down with Republicans, Democrats, students, parents, law enforcement and others to find common ground. While they didn’t agree on everything, they were able to make significant progress, including with the STOP School Violence Act.”

The women in Wednesday’s online event, broadcast on CNN, were particularly incensed that Rubio did not show up to his mobile office hours in Parkland on Wednesday, two days after the painful anniversary of that Valentine’s Day that has hearts broken still.

“Instead, he sent his staff, so this is yet another reminder to us — his constituents — that Sen. Marco Rubio is simply too weak to step up in Washington to support even common sense, bipartisan legislation that would save lives,” said Debby Miller of Davie. Miller is president of the Florida chapter of Gun Owners for Safety, an arm of Giffords.

Stacey Wesch of Parkland, whose daughter hid in a closet at MSD, said she is completely fed up with Rubio as she recalled his pledge in the immediate aftermath of Florida’s worst school shooting.

Angela Weber, whose son was in a storage closet during the rampage that left 17 dead, said that Rubio owes it to listen to those families who have been affected by this scourge that have turned schools into battlefields.

“He’s too afraid to step up and act on this very preventable crisis,” she said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Ron Ogden

    February 17, 2022 at 5:06 am

    Too few, too loud, too out of touch. Floridians bought more guns than they did pancakes last year (I guess), and the reason why is they are scared of lawlessness and they know that they have a fundamental human right to defend themselves. Marco Rubio well represents the mainstream on this issue and, while I sympathize with people who still have broken hearts about that incident, the mainstream is the mainstream, criticize it as you may.

    • Concern Citizen

      February 17, 2022 at 7:25 pm

      Being critical of the NRA is not anti gun. The NRA was once an organization that was a strong proponent of gun safety. Now, they emphasize the selling of fear, to sell more weapons.
      Also, many of the advocates for gun control are gun owners and supporter of the 2nd. For the folks that you describe as “ too few, too loud, and too out of touch” are calling for gun safety, the same purpose that the NRA once vigorously advocated.

      • Ron Ogden

        February 18, 2022 at 10:34 am

        Everyone should stand up for gun safety, and the NRA does. Perhaps it has adopted the tactics of its opponents in the fight about the right to keep and bear, and perhaps it should not have. (“Fight fire” etc.) But the NRA is only one voice–one that was not even specifically addressed in this story nor in my comment. The “mainstream” is not made solely of NRA members, and simultaneously there are many NRA members, I am sure, who put gun safety first on their list of priorities. If the anti-gun lobby insists on “waving the bloody shirt” in the media, so to speak, then we on the other side have the right, and almost the duty, to resort to it, too.

        • Concern Citizen

          February 18, 2022 at 2:43 pm

          I am not questioning the members of the NRA or the right to bear arms. I am questioning the integrity of the NRA. Again, they sell fear to sell more weapons.
          What has the NRA done to successfully end gun violence? The NRA may not be “waving the bloody shirt”, but they have “blood on their hands”. Again, it’s not a question to bear arms, but how do we stop gun violence. Rubio should not be taking money from the NRA until they wash their hands and actively promote the end of gun violence.
          (More guns don’t end gun violence and the NRA was mention in the story)

          • BG Bills

            February 20, 2022 at 11:49 am

            To put this all into perspective, suppose the problem is a broken damn. The GOP/NRA solution would not entail fixing the damn to stop the problem, it would be making sure the people downstream have access to more buckets!!!

  • John Dodd

    February 18, 2022 at 8:34 pm

    One day after the Columbine Massacre, the NRA held a top-secret meeting. Just eight days later, NRA had a signed, secret engagement letter with criminal enterprise Beckett Brown International (BBI) to commit numerous break-ins of gun-control organizations, plant highly trained spies into those groups, conduct very sophisticated disinformation campaigns against NRA foes, and create havoc in the gun-control movement. Google NRA Beckett Brown International to see stories by major media written way back in 2008. Also, go to the 2014 “Baltimore Lawyer Threw Own Client’s Case to Protect Bank-Robbing Banker From Scrutiny” a/k/a “The Price of Shining Light on the Dark World of Corporate Espionage” at for the ginormous cover-up orchestrated by Baltimore powerhouse law firm Semmes, Bowen & Semmes, and so-called “management expert witness” John Collard of Strategic Management Partners…

  • Gene Ralno

    February 18, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Most Americans tolerate the background check system now in place but find universal background checks unacceptable. The consequence is only peaceable owners suffer the brunt of these laws. Universal background check laws would severely punish tens of millions of mourning widows who failed to run background checks on those who were promised their dead husbands’ firearms. Usually, those would be their children. These mothers are not trafficking illegal firearms.

    I’ve always wondered how the democrats hope to enforce such laws. And it always comes back to the notion of universal registration, a practice already forbidden by the Supreme Court. The worst of this democrat plank is it won’t save lives or reduce crime because lawful citizens are the only ones affected. What democrats really want is to register transfers between mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors. They’re after inheritances, bequeathals, gifts and sales of inherited collections, however small they are.

    Universal background checking also has an unintended consequence. Because an individual isn’t permitted to conduct a background check, it must be serviced for a fee by a licensed dealer. The additional cost, effort, inconvenience and time will cause most to forego the fuss, keep the used firearm and buy a new one anyway. Of course a buyer, usually a relative or close friend, also will be forced to procure a new firearm. Such a law not only will increase the numbers held in personal arsenals, it will greatly reduce used firearm availability and increase the need for manufacturing new ones. It’s a politically inspired bonanza for manufacturers.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn