“We don’t want extremism in our gun laws,” Beto O’Rourke said in an interview on Sunday, where he also expressed support for taking civilians’ AR-15s–by force if necessary.
O’Rourke reaffirmed by his 2019 declaration that “hell yes” he wanted to take AR-15s and AK-47s from Americans during his appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. The Texas gubernatorial candidate claimed the only use for rifles, which are among the most popular guns in the country, are only good for murdering people. He said it was “crazy” Americans are allowed to own the guns, which he called “weapons of war.”
“That AR-15, that AK-47 has one single solitary purpose. And that is killing people as effectively, as efficiently, in as great a number, in as little time as possible,” O’Rourke said. “We saw that in Kenosha. We saw that in El Paso, Texas, where 23 people were murdered by someone with an Ak-47 just in a matter of minutes. This is crazy, and we should not come to expect this as a matter of course in American. And, the thing is, we don’t have to.”
The new comments indicate O’Rourke is not just standing by his previous commitment to confiscate “assault weapons” but doubling down on them even as he attempts to capture the governorship of Texas. Democratic primary voters were unmoved by his decision to push confiscation during 2020’s Democratic presidential primary. His post-declaration support dropped to 0 percent before he dropped out a short time later. Whether Texas voters are more open to the idea will partially determine whether or not he can beat incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.
O’Rourke took specific aim at Abbott’s gun policies during the CNN interview. He cast Abbott as the true gun extremist for his support of permitless gun carry.
“I’ve also been listening to my fellow Texans who are concerned about this idea of permitless carry that Greg Abbott has signed into law which allows any Texan to carry a loaded firearm despite the pleadings of police chiefs and law enforcement from across the state who said it would make their jobs more dangerous and make it harder for them to protect those that they were sworn to protect in their communities,” he said.
In contrast, he positioned his own plan to ban and confiscate AR-15s, which he previously said would be enforced by having police arrest those who refuse to comply, as a “common-sense” gun law necessary to “protect the Second Amendment.”
“So, here in Texas, where most of us, including myself, grew up learning how to use firearms responsibly, let’s bring that experience and knowledge to bear,” O’Rourke said. “Let’s protect the Second Amendment, but let’s also make sure that we protect one another by having common-sense gun laws.”
Abbott shot back at O’Rourke with his own comments declaring his confiscation plan “dangerous” and a violation of Texans’ rights.
“Robert Francis O’Rourke thinks it is ‘dangerous’ for you to have a gun to defend yourself,” he said on Twitter. “Texans know that self-defense is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. We won’t let dangerous progressive policies hijack your God-given rights.”
Abbott has held a sizable lead over O’Rourke in early polling. The most recent Dallas Morning News poll shows the incumbent with a six-point lead. It also indicates voters favor movie star Matthew McConaughey over O’Rourke by a margin of two to one. However, Democratic voters believe O’Rourke provides the party with a better chance at winning the race over McConaughey, who has yet to file to run, by a margin of 65 percent to 11 percent.
The poll of 1,106 registered voters was conducted between November 9th and 16th and had a margin of error of 3.2 percent.