Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) rebuked Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Friday after the former Texas congressman advocated for the federal government to confiscate firearms from American citizens.
“I am not,” Coons replied to CNN host Poppy Harlow when asked if he supports a federally mandated gun confiscation program. “And, I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying that Democrats are coming for your guns.”
“I’m a gun owner,” he continued. “My sons and I have gone skeet shooting and hunting, and frankly, I don’t think that having our presidential candidates like Congressman O’Rourke did, say that we’re going to try to take people’s guns against their will is a wise either policy or political move.”
Coon’s remarks were in reference to a statement that O’Rourke made a day earlier during the Democratic primary debates, that if he is elected president he would implement a government-run nationwide gun confiscation program to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke declared amid the crowd’s applause on Thursday evening. “We are not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
“I respect his passion,” Coons responded. “Anyone who has had to sit with the parents of victims of gun violence, parents who have lost their children — as I have after the Sandy Hook shooting [and] after the Tucson shooting — someone who was a high school classmate of mine lost his daughter in that tragic shooting in Tucson where Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was also shot.”
“To sit with a parent who has lost a child and have no answer about how we’re going to make the country safer is a very hard experience, so I respect what is motivating Congressman O’Rourke, but I don’t think as a policy position that is going to stand muster,” he continued. “I don’t think the majority of the Senate or the country is going to embrace mandatory buybacks.”
In the aftermath of a slew of deadly mass shootings carried out over the summer, Coons began working across the aisle with Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to craft a package of gun control legislation which includes expanded background checks and provisions dealing with mental health issues.
Coons has repeatedly urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take up the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which was passed by the Democrat-led House earlier in the session.
“We need to focus on what we can get done and we need to focus on the challenge here, which is that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate and our president are refusing to listen to the 93% of Americans who want us to do something on background checks,” Coons said. “Let’s get that done first.”
“We’re frankly helping Donald Trump get re-elected rather than showing a strong vision for the future,” the Delaware senator added.