- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - U.S. Rep. and Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy wants tougher gun laws that he says might prevent episodes like the one that saw 49 people killed during the Pulse nightclub tragedy in June.

Murphy is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat - and challenged him Thursday to support tougher gun control legislation.

Murphy made the push Thursday afternoon on the steps of Orlando’s City Hall while flanked by Christine Leinonen, whose son Drew Leinonen was among those killed at the club June 12.

“We need somebody who is actually going to show up to work, who acts in the best interest of their community, of their constituents, not some lobby,” Murphy said to a small contingent of media. “Every vote Senator Rubio has taken, every comment he has made since this tragedy took place, he has proven he is not that senator. I’m calling on Senator Marco Rubio to listen to his constituents, to embrace reason in order to keep us safe from gun violence.”

Murphy says he supports legislation that would close the terrorist gun loophole, demand more thorough background checks on those wanting to purchase guns. He also supports banning the sale of assault weapons such as the one Omar Mateen used to gun down more 100 people at Pulse nightclub.

He took aim at Rubio, who until a couple months ago was seeking the Republican nomination for President and voted against a measure that would have prevented those on the terror watch list from buying weapons.

“What’s missing is the leadership in Congress and people like Senator Marco Rubio to ever get this type of legislation passed,” Murphy said.

Rubio’s camp, meanwhile, has defended his position on gun laws, insisting the senator is in favor of laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families.

“That’s why Marco voted for efforts that would alert the FBI and delay the purchase of weapons for anyone currently on or previously on terrorist watch list,” spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.

Leinonen said she supports stricter gun laws that will prevent such tragedies as the one she is forced to deal with. Leinonen also made reference to Rubio, who has said one of the reasons he changed his mind and decided to run for his Senate seat is because of the Pulse massacre, after he recently paid a visit to the business community around the nightclub but talk to the victims and the families affected by the shooting.

“While other politicians came to Orlando and tried to politicize the shooting and then they went right back to Washington and they voted against every single common sense gun law,” she said while choking back tears. “So we can solve this by this election.

“We can make a society that we want to live in and I believe Patrick Murphy is the solution that we are looking for.”

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