The FBI is now treating the San Bernardino shooting by a husband and wife that killed 14 and wounded 21 as an act of terrorism, a spokesman said on Friday.
The announcement comes two days after the horrific attack, and a day after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted down a gun control measure that would have extended FBI background checks on every firearms purchase.
Four Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure but Marco Rubio was not one of them, a decision that the Florida Democratic Party is criticizing.
“Yesterday, Floridians were profoundly disappointed to learn that their absentee senator finally showed up to work to vote to allow suspected terrorists to purchase firearms. It is simply unconscionable,” FDP Chairwoman Allison Tant said in a prepared statement.
The FDP chairwoman used the opportunity to bash the Florida senator’s attendance record in the Senate of late, which has been an ongoing story for several months. He has missed more votes than any other current senator as he travels across the country campaigning and fundraising for president. She also said the vote was out of touch with the American people.
“Currently, 91 percent of gun purchases by suspected terrorists are approved,” Tant said. “While we’re used to Republicans like Marco Rubio burying their heads in the sand when it comes to modest, common-sense reforms to our gun laws supported by more than 80 percent of gun owners, this dereliction of duty represents a terrible new low.”
Appearing on “CBS This Morning” earlier on Friday, Rubio told host Charlie Rose that the San Bernardino attack would not have been prevented by expanded background checks.
“The fact of the matter is these individuals would have passed expanded background check, these individuals in California,” he said. “This terrorist that was able to access these weapons is not someone that would have wound up in any database and this is one of the risks of homegrown violent extremism. These are not people that have done anything before who suddenly become radicalized and within months are taking action.”
Rubio was asked by co-host Norah O’Donnell that since background checks are commonplace now, why wouldn’t he support them for online gun sales and gun shows?
“Because you’re putting an incredible burden on people” he said. “The gun show thing, it’s not a gun show loophole. People keep saying that. It is an individual. I decide I want to sell my gun to a friend of mine, so now you have put an extraordinary burden on me to go out and conduct a background check and I’m liable if I get it wrong. As an individual, it’s very difficult to implement, almost impossible to enforce and it ignores the fact that despite the background checks that we are seeing now, people are still getting access to these weapons.”
The FBI had resisted calling the San Bernardino massacre a terrorist act, but that shifted on Friday after it was learned that the woman who helped carry out the shootings, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a Facebook posting. However, there is still no evidence that the Islamic state directed Malik or her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, to stage the attacks. But officials now say that the Facebook posting shows that the couple were “inspired” by the group.
Farook was a U.S. citizen. His parents came from Pakistan. The New York Times reports that F.B.I. officials came up with no hits when they searched agency databases for his names. However, the paper reports that the agency has uncovered evidence that Farook had contact with five individuals on whom the F.B.I. had previously opened investigations for possible terrorist activities.
Four Republicans in the Senate — Arizona’s John McCain, Maine’s Susan Collins, Illinois’ Mark Kirk and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey — joined Democrats in supporting the gun control measure.