During the third round of Democratic presidential debates, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke said if he is elected president the government would “take your AR-15s,” a direct reversal from his claim in 2018 that people who have purchased AR-15s should keep them.
After sharing an emotional anecdote about children who died at the hands of a mass shooter in Odessa, Texas, on Sept. 1, O’Rourke said, “H-ll, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
O’Rourke began grandstanding on gun control during his opening statement, even going so far as to say the El Paso shooter was “inspired to kill by our president.”
On Aug. 3, in El Paso, Texas, two things became crystal clear for me. … The first is just how dangerous Donald Trump is — the cost and the consequence of his presidency. A racism and a violence that had long been a part of America was welcomed into the open and directed to my hometown of El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed, dozens more grievously injured by a man carrying a weapon he should never have been able to buy in the first place, inspired to kill by our president.
His enthusiastic declaration later in the debate that the federal government would confiscate semi-automatic weapons, however, contradicts a statement he made on “The Chad Hasty Show” in April 2018, less than a year and a half ago.
“I own an AR-15,” said host Chad Hasty. “A lot of our listeners own AR-15s. Why should they not have one?”
“Well, to be clear, they should have them. If you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly,” said O’Rourke. “I think Texas has a real opportunity to lead on this issue right now because we so jealously guard that Second Amendment. We believe in it. We’ll defend it.”
O’Rourke continued, “We have this proud, rich tradition of hunting, of owning guns for self-defense, for sport, for collection.”
“Doesn’t that punish the responsible gun owner?” asked Hasty. “Isn’t it punishing the good guys who are out there, the majority?”
“I don’t think so, and again, we support the Second Amendment. If you own a gun, keep that gun. Nobody wants to take it away from you — at least I don’t want to do that.”
Regardless of these statements, as a presidential candidate O’Rourke has continued to ramp up his gun control rhetoric, saying earlier Thursday that America’s financial institutions should be more active in curbing gun control.
“Credit cards have enabled many of America’s mass shootings in the last decade,” O’Rourke tweeted. “And with Washington unwilling to act, they need to cut off the sales of weapons of war today.”
Credit cards have enabled many of America’s mass shootings in the last decade—and with Washington unwilling to act, they need to cut off the sales of weapons of war today. https://t.co/yqLHMF0EWD
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 12, 2019
After shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last month, O’Rourke endorsed a federal gun confiscation program, or mandatory gun “buyback.” Additionally, the presidential candidate has begun raising money for March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action, two gun control lobbying groups, by selling T-shirts emblazoned with “THIS IS F*CKED UP” repeated six times across the front as well as the words, “End gun violence now.”
New in the store…
— Team Beto (@TeamBeto) September 1, 2019
According to RealClearPolitics’ latest aggregate of polls, O’Rourke has garnered 2.8 percent support and is in seventh place in the still-crowded Democratic primary field.