Beto O’Rourke was in Aurora, Colorado Thursday evening for a town hall on gun control in the community that has seen more than its share of tragic and horrific shootings. While there, O’Rourke had a couple of headline-grabbing moments, including attacking Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not pushing more gun control when Democrats controlled the Senate.
“Ask Chuck Schumer what he’s been able to get done,” the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters after a town hall here, responding to Schumer’s recent dismissal of O’Rourke’s call for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons. “We still don’t have background checks. Didn’t have them when he was in the majority, either. So the game that he’s played, the politics that he’s pursued have given us absolutely nothing and have produced a situation where we lose nearly 40,000 of our fellow Americans every year.”
Sooner or later someone’s going to ask Beto why he never authored a bill to ban “assault weapons” and require existing gun owners to hand over their firearms to the federal government in exchange for some cash when he was a member of Congress. In fact, when he was running for Senate in Texas last year, O’Rourke said that while he wanted to ban the sale of AR-15’s, ““If you have an AR-15, keep it. I don’t want to take anyone’s guns away from them.”
That was 2018 Beto. 2019 Beto is like the Will Rogers of gun control; he’s never met an idea he doesn’t like. In fact, after O’Rourke was asked a question from a Columbine survivor Thursday night, Beto says he’s now open to a ban on all semi-automatic firearms.
Taking questions from a crowd of about 200 that included survivors of mass shootings and gun-rights advocates at an emotional town hall held within sight of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, O’Rourke told a survivor of the Columbine massacre that he would consider whether it made sense to confiscate more than the military-style rifles he has been proposing.
“This is a criteria that makes sense to me, if that weapon is designed to kill people and do so efficiently and effectively,” O’Rourke said after Evan Todd pointed out that the perpetrator of the Columbine shooting hadn’t used those weapons.
Later, O’Rourke gave Todd his phone number and said the two could discuss it further.
“We cannot fear the future. It belongs to the bold; it belongs to every single individual who will claim it,” O’Rourke said.
I’d love to eavesdrop on that phone call, because I don’t think Beto’s going to get the conversation he’s expecting. You see, Evan Todd is a survivor of the Columbine attack, but he’s not a gun control advocate. In fact, he’s the communications director for the Colorado-based school safety advocacy group Bullets Both Ways, which supports armed trained school staff who can serve as a first line of defense for students in case of an active assailant attack. I actually met Evan for the first time at the Independence Institute’s “Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms” party last month, and I’m confident that while he was genuinely interested in hearing Beto’s response to a question about banning all semi-automatic firearms, Evan’s not a supporter of the idea.
Beto, on the other hand, is apparently open to the idea of trying to confiscate more than 250-million privately owned firearms (and that’s a very conservative estimate). The vast majority of handguns are semi-automatic, for example, but Beto just said he’s open to banning them all. It’s a completely unserious idea, but Beto has the zeal of the newly converted, and apparently nothing is off the table.
I think Thursday night may turn out to be the evening that Beto jumped the shark on gun control. At a time when gun control advocates are trying to carefully navigate increased background check legislation through Congress, in large part by claiming to be “commonsense gun safety advocates”, along comes Beto shouting “Leeeeeeeeroyyyyyy Jeeeeennnnnnkkkiiinnnssss” as he charges headlong towards confiscation. The future belongs to the bold, says Beto. Let’s hope it does not belong to the naive prohibitionists.
Parting question: when does Beto come out in favor of repealing the 2nd Amendment? At this rate, I’m guessing it’ll be before Halloween.