The morning after yet another mass shooting in Texas resulted in at least seven dead and 18 more injured—including three police officers and a 17-month-old child—Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke did not hold back during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
“The rhetoric that we’ve used, the thoughts and prayers that you just referred to, it has done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence, to protect our kids, our families, our fellow Americans in public places,” O’Rourke told CNN host Dana Bash on Sunday morning.
Referencing other recent horrific gun massacres in Texas, such as last month’s El Paso shooting that resulted in 22 deaths, the former Texas congressman went on to note that roughly 100 Americans are killed by gun violence daily before pointing out that we average about 300 mass shootings a year.
“So yes, this is fucked up,” he declared live on CNN.
“If we don’t call it out for what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly, if we’re not able to act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America,” O’Rourke continued. “And I cannot accept that. And so we’re going to speak as defiantly and as strongly as we can, but we’re also going to take action.”
The 2020 hopeful’s uncensored demands for gun reform echo his remarks at a Virginia campaign event over the weekend. After hearing news of the shooting on Saturday, he told attendees that while they didn’t yet know the motivation of the shooter or how he obtained his firearms, “we do know this is fucked up.”
“We do know that this has to stop in this country,” he added. “There is no reason that we have to accept this as our fortune, as our future, as our fate, yet functionally right now we have.”
Since the El Paso shooting, which led to a brief suspension of O’Rourke’s campaign as he publicly and privately grieved with his city’s residents, the former Democratic Senate candidate has sharpened the focus of his presidential campaign to more directly address gun control and the nation’s history of violence.
“We need to tell the truth, connect the dots, and take immediate action to end the culture of hate and violence in our country—because when one of our communities is targeted, all of us, the very idea of America, is under attack,” he told The Daily Beast recently after returning to the campaign trail.
While the mass shooting between the Texas cities of Odessa and Midland led to renewed calls to action from all the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, the race’s two candidates from Texas—O’Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro—spoke the most effusively about the violence in multiple Sunday show appearances.
“The biggest lies that the president has told include that he would do something about universal background checks,” Castro said on Meet the Press, referencing how Trump had briefly toyed with the idea of action only to inevitably be swayed by the National Rifle Association. “He said that twice after Parkland and then after El Paso and Dayton. And he’s gone back on his word.”
In President Trump's initial tweet about the shooting on Sunday morning, he did not address the issue of gun control.
Though according to the pool report, Trump said: “We’re looking at the same things.... It really hasn't changed anything.” And that “Congress has a lot of thinking to do.” He also reportedly expressed that background checks “would not have stopped any of it.”
Even as Castro and O’Rourke spoke about the necessity of new gun legislation, a number of new loosened firearm laws went into effect in Texas on Sunday, despite the Lone Star state being home to some of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
The measures were reportedly passed in during the 2019 legislative session and include permitting licensed gun owners to store a firearm in a locked vehicle, loosening some restrictions on the number of armed school marshals at public or private schools and allowing licensed gun owners to carry weapons in places of worships.
At least one Republican senator continued to assert on Sunday that President Trump wants to do “something meaningful,” on the issue of gun control. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said on ABC’s This Week, that he had spoken with the president about a bill he co-sponsored to expand background checks on gun sales. But even he said he wasn’t sure that tangible progress will be made.
“I can't guarantee an outcome, I don't know where this all ends, but the president is very interested, I am very interested in measures that make it harder for people who shouldn't have guns to get guns, and we're going to take a very serious run at ” Toomey said.