Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke has been one of the most vocal proponents of increased gun control among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. His home state has been the scene of two major shootings capturing the nation’s attention in the last month.
O’Rourke, who briefly suspended his campaign following a shooting that killed 22 people in his hometown of El Paso, jumpstarted his campaign once again with a new focus on gun control, advocating for a mandatory Australian-style gun buyback program at the federal level. It’s likely to face a serious legal challenge due to the Second Amendment and Supreme Court precedent set by District of Columbia v. Heller, which secure to Americans the individual right to own guns.
While endorsing sweeping new gun measures on the trail and advocating for federal gun confiscation in the media, O’Rourke has made several false claims and mischaracterizations about gun violence in America.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, O’Rourke claimed that the United States has been averaging “300 mass shootings” a year. According to the Washington Post, however, this number is demonstrably untrue. Defining a mass shooting as one where four or more people were killed by one or two shooters, there have only been 167 “mass shootings” since 1966.
“If we don’t call it out for what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly… act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America and I cannot accept that,” presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke reacts to the deadly mass shootings in Texas. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/oEzCLeZYiy
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) September 1, 2019
On the network’s program Sunday, O’Rourke also claimed that 100 people were shot and killed in America each day. While data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally supports this number, O’Rourke mischaracterized the statistic as homicides by citing it in the context of mass shootings. A majority of gun deaths, six in ten, are a result of suicide.
While characterizing the nation’s gun violence as an epidemic, O’Rourke has blamed President Donald Trump, saying the president bears responsibility for the shootings in El Paso because of the shooter’s lengthy manifesto that included support for reducing the human population to save the planet, which is typically a lefty position. According to O’Rourke, Trump’s “racist rhetoric,” fueled the attacks in El Paso, and therefore the president is responsible for crazy people’s actions.