Face the Nation transcripts April 14, 2013: Rubio, Manchin, Toomey, Kelly

SCHIEFFER: Let me now do shift this to guns. You met with the families -- some of the families of the Newtown tragedy. What do you think is going to happen? We're going to have Senator Manchin, Senator Toomey here with their new proposal on background checks. You actually voted to filibuster the debate on guns. Will you now continue to filibuster as these various bills come up, and why?

RUBIO: Well, we're on the bill now, and hopefully we can get into an open amendment process. For example, I hope we can pass an amendment to that bill that says that we're going to start prosecuting people who illegally are trying to buy guns and getting around the background check system. I hope we can have a debate about violence in America, about what's causing this. Everyone is focused on what people are using to commit the violence. I don't think there's nearly enough focus on the violence, which is the fundamental problem that we face. I also think it's important to protect the rights of Americans, of law-abiding Americans to possess firearms via the Second Amendment, which is a constitutional right. Now I didn't write the Constitution. That's in there. And any time you're going to do anything that touches upon that, you need to provide a very high standard. But my bigger hope is that this issue doesn't just become about guns, that we can broaden it to make it about violence and deal with things like mental health and prosecutions of those who are criminals but have been trying to buy guns.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did the meeting with these families, did that have any impact on your thinking? I mean, what do you say to them?

RUBIO: It sure did. Well, first of all, I was very impressed with these families, obviously very touched by them. And I can tell you I have never had a meeting like that in all my years of public service. And it's an indescribable experience. I congratulate them because they are taking a horrifying tragedy and are trying to turn it into a positive for the broad aspects of Americans. I don't think they would disagree with any of the things I'm saying in terms of the debate needs to be about guns. And what I expressed -- I'm sorry, the debate needs to be about violence. And what I expressed to them, and I think that they would agree with that, is that this issue cannot just be about guns. It has to be holistically about violence as it impacts the whole country. And I hope that we will take the opportunity here over the next few weeks as we debate this bill to look for ways to raise that issue. And I think they would be very supportive of that.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, it seems to me, back when you were in the Florida legislature, you were for background checks, you were for a waiting period before people could purchase a gun. Are you now against background checks? And if so, what has changed your mind?

RUBIO: No, we -- the Florida law requires background checks. And, by the way, the Florida law also provides for you to have a concealed weapons permit, which means as a concealed weapons permit- holder, which I am, you undergo a background check. And because of that there is no three-day waiting period for you when you go buy a gun. We should apply that nationally. You should be able to use -- if you have received a concealed weapons permit from any state in the country, other states should honor that when you go buy a permit, because that means you've undergone a rigorous background check. Maybe that can be part of this bill as well. My problem is this, in addition to the issue I've just raised, which is that this debate needs to be about violence, not just about guns, we have to ensure that the laws that people are putting out there do not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens and that actually do keep guns out of the hands of criminals. And my skepticism about gun laws is that criminals don't follow the law. They don't care what the law is, that they don't -- you can pass any law you want, criminals ignore it, by definition they're criminals.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Senator -- are you still there, Senator?

RUBIO: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: You know, criminals don't follow the laws on burglary and on murder and on auto theft. But those laws still, I think...

RUBIO: And we prosecute those.

SCHIEFFER: I think most people would say those laws are fairly effective. But let me just ask you this question. You say you have a concealed weapons permit, do you carry a weapon?

RUBIO: I do not, but I have a concealed weapon permit that basically says that -- and I don't quite frankly because I spend most of my time in airports and in the Capitol where you're not allowed to necessarily carry those around. But let me say this to you, all Americans have a right to that -- all Americans have a Second-Amendment right to buy a firearm, to possess one for both self-defense and for sport. And we should be very careful about anything that infringes on that. Now, if someone has an effective way to protect that right and to prevent criminals from getting access to weapons, certainly I think everyone is open to that.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you quickly before you go about North Korea, what-- what should we be doing there? Are we following the right policies?

RUBIO: I believe the administration has acted responsibly right now on that. I think they've done three things that are important. Number one, is they've made very can clear that there is not going to be any food or any conceptions in exchange for downsizing these provocations. Number two, they've repositioned assets, and those repositioned assets do two things-- they protect the United States and our territory, but they also let our allies understand clearly that we are going to live up to our security commitments. I'm also encouraged that Secretary Kerry went to China yesterday and met with the president of China. And hopefully we can get the Chinese to care more with this issue. And we're hoping the Chinese will recalibrate their relationship to North Korea and realize that what's there now on that peninsula is unsustainable. The ultimate solution to the Korean problem is to denuclearize the peninsula and to unify it. And that's ultimately the solution to that problem. And that's the goal we should be working towards, because what North Korea has is not a government, what North Korea is being run by is a criminal syndicate.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator, thank you so much for joining this morning.

RUBIO: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we want to welcome now another unlikely duo to Face the Nation, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. And IU use the word "unlikely" not only because only is Republican, one is a Democrat, but because both are gun rights supporters and earn top ratings from the NRA. But last week, they announced a proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases that will be debated in the Senate this week. Your proposal, as I understand it, closes this loophole, which means that people who go to gun shows will have to be subjected to background checks and a record of the sale will be kept, just as it is when you go to a -- to a gun dealer and buy a gun. Have you gotten any Republican support yet, Senator Toomey?

TOOMEY: Yes, there is Republican support. Mark Kirk has been actively engaged in this process, fully supports this approach. Let me stress a couple things, Bob, first thing is, there is not a single word in this legislation that in any way infringes on the Second Amendment rights of a law-abiding citizen, but we think the laws that make it illegal now for a criminal or a potentially violent, dangerously mentally ill person to have a weapon -- that's the law of the land -- we think that makes sense. And we think a background check to help increase the likelihood that we'll be successful in keeping guns out of the hands of very dangerous people, it just makes sense. It's common sense. And so I think when people see the bill, they're going to support it.