Beto O’Rourke’s impassioned promise to implement a mandatory buyback of high-capacity firearms from Americans to try to address the country’s epidemic of gun violence is not sitting well with many Democrats.
“Beto’s one human being. He gave his own opinion, OK? I think it was very harmful to make it look like all the Democrats,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. “I can tell you one thing: [Beto] is not taking my guns away from me. You tell Beto that OK?”
During last week’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston, O’Rourke spoke of his advocacy for gun control in the wake of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and his hometown of El Paso, Texas. Specifically, O’Rourke was asked whether certain guns already owned by many Americans should be confiscated.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke responded. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
In a Wednesday tweet, President Trump said O’Rourke’s words “made it much harder to make a deal” with Congress on gun control.
While Manchin is an avowed gun rights advocate who has boasted of his support from the National Rifle Association, he is far from the only Democrat calling out O’Rourke over his statement.
Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away. Will continue forward! https://t.co/87jvaYUkyn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
“I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke, but it’s no excuse not to go forward,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday when asked about Trump’s tweet.
O’Rourke challenged Schumer’s characterization of where the party stands on gun buybacks in a Wednesday tweet.
The majority of the country supports background checks, licensing, red flag laws, and yes, a mandatory assault weapons buyback.
The party is with us, the country is with us.
Now it’s time for Democrats to lead.https://t.co/exwhPYGEtw
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 18, 2019
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said O’Rourke’s remarks were sure to make him the poster child for gun rights activists who fear government overreach in response to mass shootings.
“I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns,” Coons told CNN last week.
In a Sunday interview with CNN, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg also said he thought O’Rourke’s remark played into Republican hands and that his strategy could backfire.
“We have agreement among the American people for not just universal background checks, but we have a majority in favor of red flag laws, high-capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons,” Buttigieg said. “This is a golden moment to finally do something.”
Buttigieg added that the possibility for compromise could be at hand.
“When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands.”
O’Rourke scoffed at that notion.
When candidates say, "At least Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are pretending to be interested," shit, that is not enough. Neither is poll-testing your message. Gun violence is a life or death issue—and we have to represent the bold ideas of people all over the country. pic.twitter.com/jE2uiXaENZ
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 15, 2019
For years, gun rights activists have warned that the Democratic Party is intent on taking away guns. Actor and then-NRA president Charlton Heston made that fear a rallying cry during a speech to the group’s annual convention in 2000, when he warned Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore that any government official seeking to take away his guns would have to do so from his “cold, dead hands.”
After O’Rourke floated his idea for the mandatory buyback of certain weapons, Briscoe Cain, a Republican serving in the Texas House of Representatives, responded with a tweet that read: “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.”
O’Rourke called the tweet a “death threat.”
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