Beto O’Rourke said Wednesday on CNN that he expects “mass shooters” to comply with his proposed mandatory gun buyback because they’re “our fellow Americans.”
O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, appeared on “New Day” after clashing with Pete Buttigieg on stage at the previous night’s Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had challenged O’Rourke on how he would enforce a national “confiscation” of “assault weapons.”
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota played a clip from the exchange — which Buttigieg was widely credited with winning — and then asked pretty much the same question: “How do you plan to get assault weapons away from people who don’t want to give them up?”
“As with any law in this country, we would expect our fellow Americans to follow the law,” O’Rourke said, repeating his usual answer. “We’re a nation of laws and no person is above the law. No matter how much they may disagree with a given law … This is the right thing to do. And I fully expect my fellow Americans to follow the law.”
Looking skeptical, Camerota responded with a question near and dear to many gun owners hearts.
“You expect mass shooters to follow the law?” she asked.
After a long pause, O’Rourke replied, “Our fellow Americans will follow the law, yes.”
“Congressman, mass shooters by definition … they don’t follow the law,” Camerota countered.
O’Rourke argued that mandatory gun buybacks are just one of a number of gun control measures he has proposed, which together would reduce gun violence.
“Would it stop every single shooting? No,” he acknowledged. “But that should be no excuse for not taking action now while we have the opportunity to do the right thing.”
Beto O’Rourke explains gun confiscation, just don’t call it that
“But it doesn’t make sense that people are going to hand over their assault weapons if they’re mass shooters. If they want to do harm to people, they’re not going to follow the law. So then what’s your plan?” Camerota said.
“Just tell us how it works. If somebody doesn’t voluntarily hand over their assault weapon, you’re going to go to their house, and then what?”
O’Rourke took another long pause, before saying again that “I expect our fellow Americans to follow the law.
He said mandatory buybacks had worked in other countries and that he was determined to “save lives” even if it was “politically difficult” and not “popular in all circles.”
Camerota noted that O’Rourke sounded like he was advocating gun “confiscation,” a term that he and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have criticized Buttigieg for using to describe his plan.
O’Rourke again rejected the term, saying it is just “used to scare people.”
However, we went on say: “We can take those weapons that pose a mortal risk to our fellow Americans” without infringing on the Second Amendment.
The Beto way
O’Rourke, a failed 2018 U.S. Senate candidate, rebooted his flagging presidential campaign last month following a series of high-profile mass shootings in August, including one in his native El Paso. He subsequently came out as the field’s most belligerent advocate of gun control.
At the Sept. 12 Democratic debate in Houston, O’Rourke provoked guns rights advocates by declaring: “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15s, your AK-47s, we are not going to allow them to be used against fellow Americans any more.”
Observers on both sides of the gun debate have suggested that O’Rourke’s rhetoric — along with less aggressive proposals by other Democratic candidates — may be counterproductive.
A number of gun sellers have credited O’Rourke with big spikes in sales of assault-style weapons. And the National Rifle Association named him its “AR-salesman of the month” of September, and “Possibly even of the year ….”
- 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks to CNN ‘New Day’ anchor Alisyn Camerota on Oct. 16, 2019.: Screen grab