Bad news for Beto. His “Hell yes we’re going to take away your AR-15’s and your AK-47’s” may sell him a few t-shirts, but it may also cost him some allies. Earlier today Charles Cooke at National Review noted that gun control groups may soon regret the fact that Beto O’Rourke has made gun control the centerpiece of his campaign. Now we’ve got evidence that even those who support gun control wish Beto wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about taking guns from the hands of American citizens.
U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware is an “F”-rated politician according to the NRA, but even he thought Beto was less than helpful to the gun control cause during last night’s debate.
“I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Newsroom” Friday morning.
Asked if he’s supportive of O’Rourke’s pledge, Coons responded, “I am not.”
“I don’t think a majority of the Senate or the country is going to embrace mandatory buybacks. We need to focus on what we can get done,” Coons added.
Notice that Coons said he thinks Democrats need to focus on “what we can get done”. His objection to Beto’s call for a gun ban and a “buyback” of firearms appears to be less about any philosophical objection and more about practical considerations. Democrats are betting that they can get some sort of gun control bill through the Senate and to the desk of Donald Trump, as long as they try to take too big a bite out of the 2nd Amendment. That’s why gun control groups are focusing their efforts on background checks and not an “assault weapons ban” (though the House Judiciary Committee is still set to vote on a gun and magazine ban later this month). They’re trying to convince voters that they’re just in favor of a few “commonsense” gun control laws, and then Beto comes along and opens up his big mouth.
By the way, it wasn’t just Beto’s fellow Democrats who are frustrated with his aggressive messaging. At least one Republican who’s been working to expand background checks isn’t happy either.
I agree with @ChrisCoons. This is an awful and extreme idea. Thankfully, there’s not enough support in Congress to do it. But this rhetoric undermines and hurts bipartisan efforts to actually make progress on commonsense gun safety efforts, like expanding background checks. https://t.co/lRmy8SHc47
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) September 13, 2019
Too bad for Senator Toomey that gun control advocates do want what Beto’s calling for. In fact, when Eric Swalwell was the first presidential candidate to call for a ban and a “buyback”, he received no criticism whatsoever from his fellow Democrats. What’s changed is that there was no serious chance of the Senate passing, or President Trump signing, gun control legislation just a few months ago when Swalwell made his proposal. Now there is at least some chance of that happening, and so gun control advocates are supposed to be dialing down the rhetoric and hiding their true intentions.
It’s possible that Beto’s attempt to lift his polling numbers may sink chances for the first significant gun control laws in 25 years. Would that bother the candidate? Color me doubtful. He’s not likely to win the nomination at this point, but calls to round-up the rifles may earn him enough buzz to land a contributor gig at MSNBC or another media outlet.