Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) reprimanded several individuals on Wednesday after a group showed up to protest his campaign rally at Kent State University in Ohio while open-carrying rifles.
“It is not enough to stop selling AR-15s and AK-47s when there are more than 10 million of those potential instruments of terror,” O’Rourke told the crowd. “We must mandate that every single one of them be bought back — back home, off the streets, out of our lives. No longer a threat to every to every single one of us.”
“None of us should face this terror,” he continued. “No one in El Paso, Texas should have to tell me, as they do all the time, that they’re walking around with a target on their back.”
Yesterday, people brought assault weapons to our rally at Kent State—where 4 students were shot dead in 1970.
I told them nobody should show up with an AK-47 or an AR-15 to seek to intimidate us in our own democracy.
We need to buy back every single one of them. pic.twitter.com/U7N5fWUlvv
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 26, 2019
“And nobody should show up with one of these weapons that seek to intimidate us in our own democracy. That’s wrong. That’s wrong,” O’Rourke added, pointing toward the protesters.
The former Texas congressman has notably made federally-mandated gun confiscation for so-called “assault weapons” a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. However, the demand to seize millions of firearms from law-abiding American citizens has unsurprisingly divided the Democratic Party, with many members distancing themselves from O’Rourke’s rallying cries.
O’Rourke has also brushed off widespread criticism for what many consider to be a dangerous proposal, worrying critics that a nationwide gun-grab could lead to violent clashes as Americans fear they would be losing their right to defend themselves and their families.
“And you ask, how are we going to do this given the years that have passed, the tragedies that have occurred, the mass shootings that take place in this country almost every single day,” O’Rourke said. “Not just in El Paso, not just in Midland-Odessa, not just in Pittsburgh, but in communities all across the country,”
“[It’s] so numbingly common that it doesn’t make the headlines. Those young men and women killed far too often in communities of color don’t even matter to the national news,” he continued. “It is though we think it is ok that this happens in our country. So, with universal background checks, with red flag laws, with an end to the sale of these weapons, we are going to protect the lives of our fellow Americans.”
The Democratic presidential hopeful has long advocated for a host of strict gun control measures, such as requiring universal background checks, banning magazines over the standard capacity, and opposing conceal carry reciprocity. However, since his failed statewide election in the gun-friendly state of Texas, and entrance into the national political arena, he has been drastically expanding his anti-Second Amendment platform.
In August, O’Rourke endorsed a sweeping set of policies crafted by former Parkland students, which included increasing the purchase age to 21, prohibiting more than one firearm purchase per month, implementing storage requirements, and further demands a national gun registry and licensing system for both firearms and ammunition, which imposes annual fees.
“I believe in you. I know that you’re going to force this to happen,” O’Rourke told the Kent State crowd. “Any significant change that we have ever seen in this country has been purchased with the service and the sacrifice of young people.”