Sep 18, 2019

Beto O'Rourke's plan to turn voters into gun safety activists

Beto O'Rourke at a march protesting gun violence in El Paso, Aug. 4. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke is organizing a 5-state campaign "to activate the country’s next wave of gun safety advocates" ahead of the Giffords/March for Our Lives presidential forum on Oct. 2, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: After the Aug. 3 El Paso shooting that killed 22, O'Rourke has made gun violence his campaign's top priority — and that's one way to differentiate himself from the rest of the field and paint a clearer picture to voters of why he's running.

Details: The campaign is deploying staff in Texas, South Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa to turn "Beto for America" volunteers and voters into activists against gun violence. Their goals include:

  • Connecting campaign organizers with local prevention organizations.
  • Mobilizing voters to call on credit card companies to stop enabling the sale of assault weapons. (O'Rourke was the first 2020 Democrat to support this measure.)
  • Educating these voters and volunteers on O'Rourke's gun violence prevention policy platform so they can share that with others in their community.

By the numbers: O'Rourke's campaign says there are "390 million guns in America, outnumbering the 329 million people in this country." About 9 in 10 Democrats said they favor stricter gun laws, and a clear majority of overall voters favored an assault weapons ban in a Quinnipiac University poll last month.

The bottom line: O'Rourke's leadership on gun safety may be his best prospect to regain momentum in his quest for the Democratic nomination, where he is stuck around 3% in the latest Real Clear Politics national average.

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