Failed Senate candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke has staked his campaign for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump in 2020 on his plan to “buy back” the more than 20 million “weapons of war” owned by Americans across the country.
The problem: He can’t seem to explain exactly how the U.S. government would compel gun owners to turn in their guns, though he promises “consequences” for folks who don’t comply.
O’Rourke stumbled over the issue at CNN’s Democratic debate Tuesday night, then made matters worse when he attempted to clarify his comments in media appearances the next morning.
Shock: CNN’s Camerota calls out Beto — “you expect mass shooters to follow the law?”
“Mass shooters by definition don’t follow the law.” pic.twitter.com/SwxdDFeLaO
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 16, 2019
At the Tuesday night debate, O’Rourke came under fire from openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, who criticized the Texas Democrat’s lack of specifics about how the government will force Americans to abandon their constitutional rights.
O’Rourke repeatedly said he expects his “fellow Americans” will follow the law and comply with the so-called “buyback,” ignoring the obvious issue that criminals and folks who commit mass shootings don’t think much of the law.
“If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47 … then that weapon will be taken from them,” O’Rourke promised at the debate. “If they persist, there will be other consequences.”
“Congressman, you just made it clear you don’t know how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets,” Buttigieg interjected.
Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama, also said he thought O’Rourke’s plan wouldn’t sit well with minority communities that are already leery of law enforcement.
“In the place I grew up in, we weren’t exactly looking for more reasons for cops to show up at the door,” he said. “I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door-to-door in these communities.”
The fun continued Wednesday morning, when O’Rourke worked to control the damage during a round of media interviews that undoubtedly convinced a lot more folks his buyback is a bad idea.
“So congressman, let me ask you. Say I have an AR-15, I bought it legally five years ago. I’m a law abiding citizen, you want to buy it back as president of the United States. I say ‘no.’ You give me other incentives, I say, ‘no, I bought this legally, I’m keeping this. I live on a ranch, I need it for protection.’
“What would you do then?” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough questioned.
“First of all, I wouldn’t concede the point on following the law. I don’t know you well, Joe, but I know you well enough to expect you to follow the law, even if it’s a law you disagree with. I think it’s one of the things that distinguishes us. We’re a country of laws,” O’Rourke said.
Scarborough persisted. He insisted there’s folks who will view the law as unjust and unconstitutional, and demanded a real answer.
“There will be people who don’t turn their guns back in. What’s the next step for the federal government there?” he asked.
“I think just as with any law that’s not followed, or flagrantly abused, there has to be consequences or else there is no respect for the law,” O’Rourke said. “In that case, I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm and to make sure it is purchased, bought back, so it could not be potentially used against somebody else.”
O’Rourke offered a similarly illogical argument that criminals will simply turn in their “weapons of war” at the government’s request when confronted by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.
“I fully expect my fellow Americans to follow the law,” O’Rourke told Camerota.
“You expect mass shooters to follow the law?” the host shot back.
“Our fellow Americans will follow the law, yes,” O’Rourke said.
Camerota spelled out the fundamental flaw with O’Rourke’s plan for everyone following along at home.
“The mass shooters – in Parkland, in El Paso, I could go on for 10 minutes – they don’t follow the law, by definition,” she said.
O’Rouke insisted that gun control policies he’s promoting would prevent mass shootings and argued that lawmakers shouldn’t avoid unpopular or illogical laws simply because they won’t work.
“Just tell us how it works. If someone doesn’t voluntarily hand over their assault weapon you are going to go to their house, and then what?” Camerota pressed.
After a long awkward silence, O’Rourke circled back to his talking points, particularly his expectation people will “follow the law.”
“Ya, law abiding people follow the law,” the host cut him off, “but our problem is with mass shooters who don’t.”