INDIANAPOLIS — Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday praised the National Rifle Association for defending the Second Amendment rights of individuals and families across the nation that the Florida Republican said are under attack from the Obama administration.
Speaking to the thousands that turned out for the annual NRA gathering here in Indianapolis, Mr. Rubio said that gun restrictions have proven ineffective and that the NRA's work is key to preserving "American dream in the 21st century."
"I believe that the Second Amendment is about so much more than the right to bear arms," Mr. Rubio said. "At its core, it is about preserving our God-given right to life, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Mr. Rubio, seen by some in the GOP as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, said that advocates advocates for stricter gun laws fail to recognize "the futility and ineffectiveness of gun restrictions."
"Many of our cities with the most gun crimes are ones with the strictest gun laws, and the reason for this is clear," he said. "Law-abiding gun owners like those here today, like myself, we will inevitably — even if grudgingly — follow the law. But the criminals do not. Criminals ignore and break that law, because by definition that is what criminals do."
The NRA's meeting is serving as a showcase for some of the GOP's potential presidential candidates in what is shaping up to be a wide open race for the party's 2016 nomination.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were among the speakers on the schedule Friday, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also spoke.
Mr. Rubio said that tightening gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens will not prevent more mass shootings. He said the NRA and its allies must continue to push back against an attempt to stigmatize gun owners and against tighter gun control restrictions that would fundamentally change America.
"We want an America that is different and better than any other place on earth," he said, "an America where people have a right to speak freely, to worship openly and to own a gun. Now, that is the America we inherited from those who came before us, and that is the America we are now called to leave behind to the next generation."
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