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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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

Joe Biden's 2020 gun safety plan would reinstate assault weapons ban

Joe Biden at a campaign rally in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is out with an 11-page proposal to end gun violence in the United States.

The big picture: Biden's plan would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but it would not call for a mandatory assault weapons buyback program as Beto O'Rourke has proposed.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Where 2020 Democrats stand on gun control

Warren and Biden on the debate stage on Jan. 14. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a new gun reform bill on Thursday with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that calls for raising the minimum age for all gun purchases to 21 and increasing the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.

The big picture: 2019's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Virginia Beach; and near Odessa, Texas, have pushed 2020 Democrats to take harder stances on gun control than in the last presidential election, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton only briefly addressed the issue in their primary debate.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy