Amid growing Democratic criticism of his repeated call to ban assault-style weapons and impose mandatory buybacks of AR-15s and AK-47s, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke defended his position while also firing back at his Democratic critics, specifically South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, host Chuck Todd noted that there’s been a “lot of hand-wringing about what you said,” adding that Democrats agree with the former Texas congressman’s sentiment but fear that “the rhetoric is going to actually backfire.”
O’Rourke, who has previously said on air that it is “fucked up” that America has dealt with so many mass shootings of late, told Todd that this “shows how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C. are” when it comes to confronting mass gun-related massacres.
“Talking to those doctors and trauma room surgeons who treated those victims in El Paso, they said these are wounds of war—that high-impact, high-velocity round, when it hit their systems just shredded everything inside of them,” O’Rourke exclaimed, referencing last month’s El Paso shooting. “I refuse to accept that. And I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling or the fear of the NRA that has purchased the complicity and silence of members of Congress.”
The remarks came as elsewhere on Sunday morning, Buttigieg agreed with Sen. Chris Coons’ (D-DE) assertion that conservatives are going to use O’Rourke’s demand to take away AR-15s “will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.”
“Look, right now we have an amazing moment on our hands. We have agreement among the American people not just for universal backgrounds checks but we have a majority in favor of red flag laws, high-capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons,“ he further noted on CNN's State of the Union. “This is a golden moment to finally do something.”
“When even this president and even Mitch McConnell at least are pretending to be open to reforms, we know we have a moment on our hand,” the South Bend mayor added. “Let’s make the most of it and get these things done.”
O’Rourke, however, was not going to let Buttigieg’s comments go by unanswered. In a tweet following the mayor’s CNN appearance, O’Rourke pushed back against his fellow presidential hopeful.
“Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms’? 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,” O’Rourke tweeted on Sunday
Interestingly, Buttigieg has recently claimed that Democrats need to stop worrying over how Republicans are going to frame their positions and policies because even if they “embrace a conservative agenda” the GOP is “going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists.”
“So let's just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it,” Buttigieg insisted during July’s Democratic debate.