O'Rourke: Permitless Carry & AR-15s Prevent "Responsible Gun Ownership"

AP Photo/John Minchillo

We’ve seen poll after poll in recent weeks pick up on the fact that Americans are souring on gun control, with organizations like Gallup and Quinnipiac noting plunging support for new gun control laws as violent crime rises around the country. Gun control supporters like UCLA professor Adam Winkler are urging their fellow activists to quit talking about trying to ban AR-15s and “large capacity” magazines and instead focus on issues that are supposedly more popular with the public like universal background checks. Joe Biden himself isn’t talking up his gun ban plans much these days, though he was quite vocal about banning AR-15s and forcing gun owners to either hand over their modern sporting rifles or register them with the federal government.

But while Biden has mostly stopped mumbling about his gun ban, the guy he said would be in charge of rounding up the guns is still very much in favor of the idea. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke isn’t in the Biden administration, however. He’s running for governor of Texas, and on Sunday he once again told Texans that he’s coming for their guns… and their right to carry.

The former Democratic presidential and senatorial candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that Texas has a “long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership.” But Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s support of civilians owning military-style weapons, now without training and background checks, has threatened that tradition, he said.

“Most of us here in Texas … do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war,” he said. “So yes, I still hold this view.”

O’Rourke was responding to a question Bash posed about whether he maintains a position he shared in 2019 while expressing support for mandatory buybacks for semiautomatic weapons. He said: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, you’re not going to be allowed to use it against your fellow Americans anymore.”

I don’t want my friends, family members, or neighbors to die in a drunk driving accident, but I’m not trying to ban cars or liquor. Similarly, I don’t want my loved ones (or strangers, for that matter) to become the victim of a violent crime, but I don’t think that banning guns is the answer.

What Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is really saying is that he’s willing to put people in prison for exercising their Second Amendment rights. He not only wants to criminalize owning the most commonly-purchased rifle in the United States, but wants to repeal the Constitutional Carry law that Gov. Greg Abbott signed earlier this year.

“I have also been listening to my fellow Texans who are concerned about this idea of permitless carry that Greg Abbott has signed into law, which allows any Texan to carry a loaded firearm, despite the pleadings of police chiefs and law enforcement from across the state, who said it would make their jobs more dangerous and make it harder for them to protect those that they were sworn to serve in their communities,” O’Rourke said.

“So, we don’t want extremism in our gun laws. We want to protect the Second Amendment. We want to protect the lives of our fellow Texans,” he said. “And I know that, when we come together and stop this divisive extremism that we see from Greg Abbott right now, we’re going to be able to do that.”

What’s more extreme; recognizing the right to bear arms without a government permission slip or putting people in prison for maintaining possession of an AR-15 that was lawfully purchased? Heck, even if you think both are equally extreme positions, wouldn’t you rather side with the “extreme” position that doesn’t involve jailing people for exercising a constitutionally protected right?

Would Texans be safer with some Beto-style gun control laws in place? Why not ask Baltimore residents? After all, AR-15s and other “assault weapons” have been banned for nearly 10 years in Maryland, and the state’s “may issue” laws prevent all but a handful of residents around the state from lawfully carrying a gun in self-defense. Baltimore also just surpassed 300 homicides this year; a grim milestone that has been reached for seven years straight.

The idea that we can ban our way to safety not only runs afoul of our Constitution, but is an affront to common sense. The fact that it’s also the fundamental premise of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s public safety platform tells me that the Democrat is a true believer when it comes to infringing on our right to keep and bear arms. There are all kinds of reasons for O’Rourke to pivot from his gun banning desires, but instead he’s doubling down on his intent to criminalize our Second Amendment rights.

Nov 29, 2021 4:30 PM ET