The Democrat talked about his newly announced gun policy proposal and listened to gun owners and vendors at the event, many of whom were Republicans and Trump supporters, according to O’Rourke’s team.
“In order to make progress, Beto believes we have to meet people where they are, and not be afraid to have hard conversations with people who may not always agree,” his campaign said in a statement.
O’Rourke’s presidential campaign briefly paused when he rushed to his hometown earlier this month after a gunman opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, allegedly targeting Mexican immigrants, and killed 22 people. Less than 24 hours after the El Paso attack, another mass shooting broke out in Dayton, Ohio.
O’Rourke returned to campaigning with a renewed focus on gun control. On Thursday, the former representative called for a ban on assault weapons and proposed a federal buyback program.
The Democrat said he “appreciated” hearing gun owners’ perspectives during the gun show but maintained that a ban on “weapons of war,” such as AR-15s, were necessary.
“If I’m president, you wouldn’t be able to buy weapons of war for $395,” O’Rourke tweeted from the show. “You wouldn’t be able to buy them at all.”
O’Rourke stopped at the gun show in between campaign events, according to ABC News.
According to ABC’s Jeffrey Cook, who accompanied O’Rourke to the show, a Trump supporter named Larry Beaver told the Democrat that his proposal to ban assault weapons wouldn’t help his campaign.
“If you want votes, you’re not going to get them by talking about taking this away from people,” Beaver told O’Rourke. “People are going to find a way to kill people.”
After announcing his gun control proposal earlier this week, O’Rourke acknowledged that proposing such a ban would make things difficult for his campaign.
“I know that this is not politically easy,” he said. “It’s frankly why far too few people have proposed it. It’s frankly why I have not proposed it in the past.”
“Regardless of what it does to our prospects going forward, you’ve got to speak the truth and be clear about where the solutions are,” he continued. “So, yes, that’s what we’ve got to do.”