Beto O’Rourke, an advocate of mandatory gun buybacks, was on Thursday named the National Rifle Association’s “AR-15 salesman of the month.”
The NRA made the ironic announcement by tweeting an official-looking graphic with golden block letters and a black-and-white image of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate grinning.
“Possibly even of the year …” the gun rights advocacy group commented.
Possibly even of the year… pic.twitter.com/ESnA4Qur93
— NRA (@NRA) September 19, 2019
Separately, a photo shared to Reddit Sunday appears show a gun shop similarly honoring O’Rourke with a placard on its sales counter. The post has been upvoted 3,000 times.
Reddit user AppleTerra, who posted the photo on r/conservative, did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s inquiry about its provenance.
The honorifics came after a number of firearms sellers credited O’Rourke’s gun control advocacy for a surge in sales of guns and ammunition, particularly of the AR variety.
From South Carolina to Arizona
The Palmetto State Armory in Columbia, South Carolina, recently sold out of a “No Beto” AR-15 receiver. On its website, the store has wanted pre-order customers to expect the frame to ship only within eight to nine weeks “Due to unprecedented demand related to the recent political events.”
Last Wednesday, Mr. Guns, a store and gun range in Waterloo, Iowa, told NBC affiliate KWWL that O’Rourke was driving customers to the establishment in droves. Mr. Guns reported a 35 percent increase in AR platform sales.
“We’d like to thank him for being our number one salesman of the month,” head instructor Stephen Foote said of O’Rourke. “The more political rhetoric about the second amendment, the more guns and ammunition we will sell, and especially the guns they’re targeting.”
When it comes to ammunition, Foote said: “We’ve run out twice now.”
The previous week, on Sept. 13, the Alpha Dogs gun shop in Tempe, Arizona, reported selling out of AR-15 rifles in less than four hours after offering a “Beto special” on the guns, which were discounted to $349.99.
“We’re trying to process the orders and work on getting more special deals for our good friend gun grabber Beto,” the company said in a Facebook post, which was liked more than 1,000 times.
Matt Boggs, the store’s owner, told “Fox & Friends” last Thursday that the sale had been inspired by O’Rourke’s performance at the Sept. 12 Democratic debate, during which he repeated what has become something of a catchphrase: “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
Does Beto O’Rourke deserve to be gun “salesman of the year”?
In the wake of an Aug. 3 mass shooting in in his hometown El Paso, O’Rourke has staked out an aggressive stance on gun control. In addition to gun buybacks, he has endorsed universal background checks, a national gun registry and tightening federal gun-trafficking laws.
O’Rourke’s plans have won him scorn from President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Even some Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have suggested the former Texas congressman is going too far.
According to analysts, sales of firearms tend to spike following high-profile mass shootings or domestic terror attacks, likely fueled in part by politicians’ calls for stronger gun control. Gun purchases have also been found to be higher when a Democrat in the White House is in position to pick Supreme Court justices.
However, O’Rourke has argued that gun violence is too much of a crisis to worry about blowback and insisted he is on the right side of history.
The majority of the country supports background checks, licensing, red flag laws, and yes, a mandatory assault weapons buyback.
The party is with us, the country is with us.
Now it’s time for Democrats to lead.https://t.co/exwhPYGEtw
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 18, 2019
Pressed on how he will enforce his promised gun buyback, he has predicted that American gun owners will willingly handover their firearms when he is president.