Beto O’Rourke ― who made waves on the Democratic presidential debate stage when he put gun owners on notice, warning them he would take their military-style firearms ― said Friday that his fellow Texans in the open carry state don’t mind turning over their weapons.
During an MSNBC interview, the former congressman and 2020 hopeful explained that while having “guns to hunt or for self-defense makes a lot of sense to us here in Texas,” a “weapon of war” is out of the question.
“And even from those Texans who own AR-15s, they’ve told me this themselves ― ’I don’t need this. I don’t need it to hunt, I don’t need it to protect myself. It was fun to use. I like taking it out to the range, but if giving this back, or cutting it to pieces, or selling it to the government helps to keep us safer, then by all means, let’s do it,’” he added.
O’Rourke said the responses came from parents concerned for the safety of their children in school amid an ongoing series of mass shootings across the country.
In an impassioned call for gun control during the Thursday debate, O’Rourke decried weapons “designed to kill people on a battlefield,” vowing to take action if elected.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, you’re not going to be allowed to use it against your fellow Americans anymore,” he said.
Later clarifying his position in a separate MSNBC interview, O’Rourke noted the public would simply be legally required to participate in his proposed mandatory buyback program for semi-automatic weapons.
“It’s expecting Americans to follow the law,” he said, emphasizing that it will be mandatory rather than voluntary.
However, not all Democratic candidates are on the same page. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris support mandatory buybacks, but Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar prefers a voluntary initiative.
O’Rourke’s statements follow two mass shootings in his state last month. On Aug. 3, a gunman killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart. On Aug. 31, a shooting spree between Odessa and Midland killed 7 people. Both incidents left more than 40 injured.