When he ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination last year, Robert Francis O’Rourke, nee “Beto,” pledged that he would take away the most popular sporting rifles from Americans.
Now that he’s running to become the governor of Texas, O’Rourke wants Lone Star State voters to know something: He hasn’t changed his mind.
“I still hold this view,” O’Rourke, who is also a former U.S. representative and U.S. Senate candidate from Texas, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“This campaign in Texas is not going to be about Joe Biden. It’s not going to be about Donald Trump. It’s not going to be about anyone from outside of our state,” O’Rourke said.
“This is going to be about the people of Texas and what the people of Texas want. And I have told you, they want the big things, like jobs, great schools, and making sure everyone can see a doctor. But they also want to see some competence in their government.” he added.
But…the guns? The AR-15s and AK-47-style semi-automatic rifles so popular among Americans and, those owners believe, entirely constitutional to own?
Yes, O’Rourke said.
“Look, we are a state that has a long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership. And most of us here in Texas do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war. So yes, I still hold this view,” O’Rourke said.
He also blasted a law signed by current GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in July that allows residents to carry handguns concealed without first obtaining a license.
“We don’t want extremism in our gun laws. We want to protect the Second Amendment, we want to protect the lives of our fellow Texans. And I know that when we come together and stop this divisive extremism that we see from Greg Abbott right now, we’re going to be able to do that,” O’Rourke told CNN.
The serial candidate’s comments over the weekend are an extension of his now-infamous remarks made during a debate in Houston during his short-lived 2020 presidential bid in which he declared, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
Following those comments, O’Rourke was frequently challenged on the campaign trail, including by a woman who would use his declaration as inspiration to run for — and win — a seat in Congress.
“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” then-ordinary citizen Lauren Boebert told O’Rourke in Sept. 2019.
“Shame on him for coming to Colorado to expound upon our tragedies,” Boebert said. “Those are our victims, and he came here to paint a picture for his own campaign trail and really, shame on you, sir, for doing that.”
Boebert was referencing the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. “We were here. We experienced those losses. That was a community loss and honestly, those victims were defenseless,” she would later tell Fox News.
“I have four children, I am 5-foot-0, 100 pounds, cannot really defend myself with a fist,” she railed at O’Rourke. “I want to know how you’re going to legislate that because a criminal by [definition] breaks the law, so all you’re going to do is restrict law-abiding citizens, like myself.”
The rest is history: Boebert, a restaurant owner from Rifle, Colo., where wait staff are required to open-carry a handgun, is now a freshman GOP lawmaker in Congress.
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