Sep 15, 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."

CNN'S JAKE TAPPER: 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke raised some eyebrows by saying, 'Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,' at the debate. Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware who has endorsed Biden, he has responded by saying this: 'That clip will be played for years at second amendment rallies for organizations who try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.' Do you agree? Did Beto O'Rourke say something that's playing into the hands of Republicans?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes. Look, right now, we have an amazing moment on our hands. We have agreement among the American people for not just universal background checks, we have a majority in favor of red flag laws, high-capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons. This is a golden moment to finally do something, because we've been arguing about this for as long as I've been alive. When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands. Let's make the most of it and get these things done.

Why it matters: The candidates' clash represents a growing rift within the Democratic party between moderates and progressives, who are increasingly finding themselves misaligned on issues including health care, immigration and approaches to legislating.

What they're saying: On NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, O'Rourke also said he refuses to acknowledge the "politics or the polling" on AR-15s, stating Democratic backlash "just shows you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are."

Go deeper: Democrats' watershed moment on guns

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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 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.
Go deeperArrowSep 15, 2019

Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker: Beto finds a winning line

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

With his blunt words, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15," Beto O'Rourke saw a bigger spike in online attention than any of his 2020 Democratic rivals in the 3 debates, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke identified the right issue at the right moment. Since the El Paso and Dayton shootings, guns have risen to the forefront of the national conversation. For 3 straight weeks, and for 6 of the last 7, stories about guns have generated more interactions on social media than any other issue.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019