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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.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.