Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) slammed his 2020 Democratic Party presidential primary challenger South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday for criticizing O’Rourke’s signature policy proposal.
“What Pete has been saying is that a mandatory buyback is the shiny object that is distracting us,” O’Rourke told reporters after participating in a gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“How in the world can you say that?” he continued. “How in the world can you say that to March for Our Lives? How can you say that to survivors of mass shootings across this country? How can you say that to the majority of hispanics in America, certainly in Texas who fear that they will be the victims of a mass shooting inspired by racism and hatred that’s been welcomed into the open by this president and has been armed with weapons of war?”
How could you call mandatory buybacks a “shiny object” in front of March For Our Lives? pic.twitter.com/wSg6ItQT2K
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 3, 2019
O’Rourke’s remarks were in reference to comments Buttigieg first made in September during an appearance on CNN. At the time, Buttigieg criticized O’Rourke’s calls for the federal government to seize millions of firearms from law-abiding American citizens, and noted that the proposal was playing right into the hands of Republicans.
“Look, right now, we have an amazing moment right here on our hands,” Buttigieg told CNN host Jake Tapper. “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, banning the new sale of assault weapons.”
“This is a golden moment to finally do something because we’ve been arguing about this for as long as I’ve been alive,” he added.
O’Rourke’s demand for a nationwide gun grab comes as he has been facing mounting pressure to drop out of the presidential race. Instead of ending his campaign, he re-branded it for a third time in August with a primary focus on expanding his anti-Second Amendment platform.
The former Texas lawmaker was the first major 2020 Democratic candidate to endorse a federally mandated gun confiscation program for so-called “assault weapons,” but a host of his primary challengers have since followed suit. To date, none of the candidates advocating for a mandatory buyback program have defined what constitutes an “assault weapon.”
However, the proposal has been a divisive topic for the Democratic Party. While O’Rourke’s declaration that “hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15 [and] your AK-47” has received massive applause from his left-wing supporters, many Democratic lawmakers have since been distancing themselves from the rallying cries.
O’Rourke has touted both Republican and Democratic disapproval of the program, stating that, “it shows me we are doing something right.” But the former congressman has also taken particular offense to Buttigieg’s condemnation.
“I was really offended by those comments,” O’Rourke said. “I think [Buttigieg] represents a kind of politics that is focused on poll-testing, and focus group-driving, and triangulating, and listening to consultants before you arrive at a position. I think our politics has to be about doing the right thing and saying the right thing.”