After Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) dismissed Democratic presidential candidate former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) demand for a nationwide gun confiscation program as unrepresentative of the Democratic Party, O’Rourke responded with polls showing its support.
“I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke,” Schumer told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. “But it is no excuse not to go forward [with gun control legislation].”
“With respect to the Minority Leader, a recent Monmouth University poll found that nearly 70% of Democrats support Beto’s mandatory buyback plan for assault weapons,” O’Rourke’s campaign responded in a fundraising email. “A Washington Post poll found 74% of Democrats support it.”
The former Texas congressman was the first major 2020 Democratic candidate to endorse a government-run gun seizure program for so-called “assault weapons,” but a host of his primary challengers have since followed suit, including members of Schumer’s own Senate caucus.
“Even several of Schumer’s colleagues support Beto’s plan,” the email continued. “For example, both Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker said they back Beto’s mandatory assault weapons buyback.”
O’Rourke faced widespread blowback after the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) third primary debate when he stated in no uncertain terms that if he were to be elected president, he would confiscate millions of firearms from law-abiding American citizens.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said on the debate stage. “We are not going to allow [them] to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
While his declaration received massive applause from the left-wing crowd, many members of his own party have since distanced themselves from O’Rourke’s rallying cries. Democratic lawmakers, including those in leadership, have even been sounding the alarm that such an anti-Second Amendment endorsement could be detrimental to Democrats and further fire up the Republican base.
“Look, Beto would support this even if it weren’t popular because this is about doing the right thing to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic,” O’Rourke’s campaign email continued. “But the fact is that the vast majority of Democrats do support Beto’s plan — which means it’s time for leadership that embraces bold gun safety reform.”
Schumer, however, has been working along side House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass an expansive package of gun control legislation, which includes universal background checks and “red flag” laws.
O’Rourke’s Democratic primary challenger, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, expressed concern days earlier that O’Rourke’s demand for the federal government to seize firearms from American citizens is playing into the hands of Republicans and may prevent any Democratic-backed legislation from getting passed.
“Look, right now, we have an amazing member right here on our hands. We have agreement among the American people for not just universal background checks, but we have a majority in favor of red flag laws, high-capacity magazines, and banning the new sale of assault weapons,” Buttigieg said on CNN over the weekend. “This is a golden moment to finally do something because we’ve been arguing about this for as long as I’ve been alive.”
“Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reform’?” O’Rourke responded to the South Bend mayor. “That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it.”