Hell yes, Beto O’Rourke does want to take your AR-15?
The Texas Democrat has flipped his position on confiscating the rifles again. He told The New York Times on Wednesday he stands by his 2019 pledge to take the guns.
“I don’t think that we should have AR-15s and AK-47s on the streets of this state — I have seen what they do to my fellow Texans in El Paso in 2019,” he told the paper on Wednesday. “I haven’t changed a thing about that. I’m just telling you I’m going to focus on what I can actually do as governor and where the common ground is.”
That’s the opposite of what he told supporters at a campaign stop in Tyler, Texas, on February 8th, 2022.
“I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone,” O’Rourke said. “What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment.”
O’Rourke told The Times the statements he made in Tyler were not a walk back despite being the opposite of what he told a national audience during a presidential primary debate.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said in September 2019. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
The head-spinning reversals come as O’Rourke struggles to gain ground in the gubernatorial election against incumbent Republican Greg Abbott. O’Rourke has trailed Abbott by double digits since announcing his campaign back in November. Abbott leads O’Rourke by 10 points in the most recent poll from the Texas Politics Project at UT Austin, and Real Clear Politics shows him with a similar lead across an average of polls.
Polls have also shown gun policy presents an uphill battle for O’Rourke. A December Quinnipiac University poll found Abbott held a 27-point lead with voters on who would handle gun policy better. The Texas Politic Project poll also found support for stricter gun laws at a 7-year low with more opposed to new restrictions than favoring them.
It remains unclear precisely what policy O’Rourke supports to get AR-15s and AK-47s off the streets of Texas. In 2019, he said he supported a mandatory buyback of the guns with some kind of punishment from law enforcement for those who refused to comply.
“If someone does not turn in an AR-15, or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate—as we saw in Kent State recently—then that weapon will be taken from them,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in October 2019. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement.”
However, O’Rourke’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on his current policy. He also failed to outline his specific policy proposals in the interview with The Times. His campaign website declares it is “far too easy for Texans to get their hands on weapons of war” and says there is a “need to reduce the number of AR-15’s and AK-47’s on our streets,” but doesn’t outline how he plans to do that.
Primary voting in the state has already begun, with Abbott and O’Rourke expected to capture their respective parties’ nominations. The general election will be held on November 8th, 2022.