Beto O’Rourke has already ticked off Democrats on Capitol Hill with his repeated endorsements of gun confiscation, including telling Chris Cuomo on CNN Wednesday evening that he will confiscate “AR-15’s and AK-47’s”, which he labeled “weapons designed for use on a military battlefield”. Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Delaware’s Chris Coons are a just a couple of the Democrats in Washington expressing frustration with Beto’s full-throated calls for gun confiscation while they’re trying to hammer out an agreement with Republicans to expand some background checks.
Now Beto’s calling his fellow Democrats “complicit” in the nation’s violent crime problem. While speaking to Cuomo, O’Rourke argued that while Republicans are awful on gun control, his fellow Democrats aren’t much better.
“I mean, the Republicans are the most obstinate and the most obstructionist and the most in the pockets of the NRA, but it’s been a bipartisan problem that the Centers for Disease Control couldn’t even study gun violence, that here we are in 2019 and we still don’t have universal background checks or ‘red flag’ laws or we allowed the assault weapons ban to expire, even though it did so much good and saved so many lives,” the former Texas congressman told CNN.
“So, this old policy and tactic of relying on polls and allowing the NRA to set the terms of the debate no longer works for me and no longer works for this country,” he added.
First of all, no, the gun ban that expired in 2004 was not a huge success. In fact, at the time of its expiration even gun control groups weren’t fighting too hard to keep it around. Their big argument was that the reason the semi-auto ban didn’t do much was that it wasn’t strong enough to begin with, as this Los Angeles Times story from 2004 makes clear.
Some experts said the loopholes in the ban were so great that small modifications in banned weapons made them legal.
“Nothing of substance will change in the gun industry after the sunset,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates gun control. “The difference between the post-ban versions of assault weapons such as the AR-15 and their banned counterparts is entirely trivia.” She added that many assault weapons had been developed since 1994 and fall outside the ban’s restrictions.
It’s actually amusing to see Beto O’Rourke complain about politicians paying too much attention to the polls, since his campaign has been hoping that his embrace of a gun ban and confiscation would lead to a rise in his anemic polling among Democrat voters. Unfortunately for the candidate, he’s seen no real gains since his “Hell yes, we’re coming for your guns” moment a week ago, and so now he’s decided to double down on the rhetoric.
If the current push for gun control fails, most Democrats will put the blame squarely on President Trump and Republicans, but there will be also be more complaints that Beto went too far, at least publicly, in pushing a ban and “buyback” of the most commonly sold rifle in America today. The more he continues to point fingers at his fellow Democrats for their gun control failures, the more fingers he’s likely to see pointed back at him as well.