Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) repeated an unsubstantiated claim on Friday while trying to promote a nationwide government-run gun confiscation program for so-called “assault weapons.”
“By working with Congress and listening to the American people, who I believe form a majority on this issue, buying back AR-15s and AK-47s, we’re going to change the law so that it will no longer be legal to hold one of these,” O’Rourke told MSNBC host Willie Geist.
“This is the logical process we need to follow,” he continued. “So, if every Democrat on that stage last night agrees that we should no longer be selling AR-15s and AK-47s — because when you’re shot with one of those high impact, high velocity rounds it blows a hole out your system the size of an orange, it shreds everything inside – then why is it ok to leave 10 million of them on the street?”
During his failed run to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018, O’Rourke frequently asserted that a gunshot from the semi-automatic rifle would leave a wound the size of an orange. The claim was subsequently touted on protest signs during anti-Second Amendment demonstrations.
Left-wing fact-check site Snopes addressed the claim at the time, noting that an orange-sized hole is “too big to represent an AR-15 entrance wound” and that even an exit wound is unlikely to be that large as well.
The presidential hopeful has long advocated for strict gun control measures, such as requiring universal background checks, opposing conceal carry reciprocity, and banning “assault weapons.” However, his anti-gun stance has become even more radical since he began seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency.
After facing mounting pressure to drop out of the presidential race, O’Rourke instead re-launched his campaign in August with a primary focus on his anti-gun platform. Days later, the former Texas congressman called for the federal government to seize certain firearms from American citizens, but he has yet to clarify which firearms should be confiscated.
However, this is not the first time that O’Rourke has been caught promulgating claims that have not been substantiated.
In the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, the former Democratic lawmaker repeatedly stated that President Donald Trump described “white nationalists and [Ku Klux] Klansmen, and neo-Nazis” as “very fine people.”
The distorted statement was in reference to a press conference that the president gave in August 2017 while condemning a white pride rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally was in protest of the removal of a Confederate General Robert E. Lee statue, and the left-wing group Antifa showed up to counter-protest.
During the press conference, Trump fiercely condemned the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, but also contended that there was a third group that had “very fine people on both sides.” This third group consisted of individuals who either wanted the statue dismantled or to remain in place, and came simply to attend the protest rather than participate in the white pride rally.
After Breitbart News confronted O’Rourke with the misquote, he replied “No. I believe in the truth, and in being honest about what the president was doing.” He subsequently continued to amplify his claim.
O’Rourke also continues to falsely claim that Trump has not disavowed white supremacists, that he tried to ban “all people of one religion from this country,” and that the president has referred to immigrants as an “infestation” and “animals.”