Sep 15, 2019

Beto refuses to acknowledge "politics or the polling" on AR-15s

2020 contender Beto O'Rourke told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that he refuses to "even acknowledge the politics or the polling" on guns.

  • "I think this just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are," O'Rourke told host Chuck Todd.

TODD: [Sen]. Patt Toomey tweeted the following: I agree with Chris Coons. This is an awful and extreme idea. Thankfully there's not enough support in Congress to do it. But this rhetoric undermines and hurts bipartisan efforts to actually make progress on common sense gun safety efforts like expanding background checks. He went on the record, Congressman. A few other Democrats have gone with blind quotes. There's a lot of hand wringing about what you said. Agreeing with your sentiment, but concerned that the rhetoric is going to actually backfire. What do you say?

O'ROURKE: I think this just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are. I think what's truly awful is a 17-month-old baby shot in the face with an AR-15, as happened in Odessa. What's truly awful is 22 people killed in a Walmart the Saturday before school starts that next Monday, buying their school supplies. Innocent of any crime or any threat to this country. In fact, living in one of the safest cities in America: El Paso, Texas. Hunted down by their ethnicity with a weapon that was designed for use on a battlefield. Talking to those doctors and trauma room surgeons who treated those victims in El Paso, they said these are wounds of war. That high-impact, high-velocity round when it hit their systems just shredded everything inside of them. I refuse to accept that, and I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling, or the fear, or the NRA that has purchased the complicity and the silence of members of Congress, and its weak response to a real tragedy in America. 40,000 gun deaths a year, we've got to do something about it, and I'm proposing that we do something about it.

The big picture: At Thursday's debate, O'Rourke exclaimed: "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." Some fellow Democrats are concerned that the comment reflects rhetoric from many conservatives who've long said liberals simply want to take guns away.

  • O'Rourke has made gun control the central issue of his campaign following a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead.

Go deeper: 5 takeaways from the third Democratic debate

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Schumer dismisses O'Rourke's assault weapon buyback proposal

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that Beto O'Rourke's proposed assault weapon buyback program is unrepresentative of Democratic views, according to Albany's Times Union.

Why it matters: Schumer's dismissal of O'Rourke's proposal signals that some top Democrats are concerned that it could derail ongoing talks about gun control legislation and may allow Republicans to claim during the 2020 election cycle that Democrats intend to take Americans' guns away.

Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019

Beto vs. Buttigieg on gun control

2020 contender Pete Buttigieg told CNN on Sunday that Beto O'Rourke's remark of "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15" plays into the hands of Republicans on gun control.

O'Rourke's Twitter response: "Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are 'at least pretending to be open to reforms'? That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it."

Go deeperArrowSep 15, 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.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019