Houston Chronicle spins away O'Rourke's gun ban flip in ringing endorsement

AP Photo/LM Otero

We’re just about two weeks away from Texas’ primary election, and Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is still favored to win the Democratic primary, despite his 11th hour flip flop on banning AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles. In fact, O’Rourke picked up the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle this weekend, with the paper’s editors doing their best to help him try to clean up the mess he’s made of his stance on our right to keep and bear arms.

Keep in mind that O’Rourke has stood by his “hell yes we’re taking your guns” comment since he first made it in September of 2019, repeating it multiple times when he was a presidential candidate and embracing the remark when he announced his campaign for governor of Texas last November.

Last week, however, O’Rourke started claiming that he wasn’t interested in “taking anything from anyone,” a statement that’s been largely ignored by the left and widely mocked by the right. In their endorsement of the Democrat this weekend, the Chronicle editors brought up the older comments, but they (and O’Rourke himself) left his current position as vague as possible.

We asked about challenges he’s facing on the campaign trail this time around, how much, for instance, his infamous quote, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” is still ringing in the ears of gun owners who might otherwise be inclined to vote for him but have the false impression that he doesn’t support Second Amendment rights.

“It’ll be an issue for some people, no two ways about it,” he said. “And yes, there will be folks who will come up, and they may have gotten a message from Greg Abbott that says that I want to take away everything that they own, including the butter knife.”

Why would anybody have the impression that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke doesn’t support the Second Amendment? Besides declaring that he would ban and confiscate the nation’s most commonly-sold rifle, I mean. This absurd gaslighting from the Chronicle’s editors isn’t going to convince anyone that O’Rourke’s really a Second Amendment stalwart, but it will hopefully cause a few readers to fully comprehend the contempt that those editors have for the intelligence and gullibility of their readers.

O’Rourke himself tried to brush away the very legitimate concerns of gun owners by making that absurd comparison to wanting to ban butter knives, but clearly his campaign is worried enough about his pro-gun ban position that he’s explicitly walked it back in front of voters (though not necessarily newspaper editors).

But he told us it gives him an opportunity to explain why he made that bold declaration in one of the presidential debates: “Look, I don’t know how you all would have reacted if 23 people in your community were slaughtered. If you were there, the day it happened and met the family members in the ICU waiting room who said, ‘why in the world, Beto, does somebody need a weapon like this in our community? And why were we as Hispanics hunted down for the color of our skin or ethnicity or country of national origin? And what are you, Beto, gonna do about that?’ Those are serious questions.”

And he answered them, before a national audience and political opponents who will never let him forget it.

And if his “hell yes we’re coming for your guns” was his serious response, fine. But another serious question should be “what’s changed for you since,” because it’s impossible to square O’Rourke’s 2019 comments with last week’s “I dont want to take anything from anyone.”

The Chronicle’s editorial board says they spoke with O’Rourke last week, but don’t indicate if that was before or after his public pronouncement backing away from his previous boast about coming for our guns. Either way, their endorsement of O’Rourke came out after his reversal was publicly reported, but apparently wasn’t worth a mention in their editorial, which gives readers no idea of what his current position on banning AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles actually is. While these editors may have done O’Rourke a solid with their endorsement, they certainly didn’t do their readers any favors by dissembling on an issue that’s hugely important to many voters.

Then again, I doubt there’s that much confusion among Texas voters about where O’Rourke stands on their guns, because I don’t think too many folks are buying his new “I don’t want to take anything from anyone” schtick. I still think O’Rourke will easily win the Democratic primary in a couple of weeks, but will be clobbered in the general election come November thanks in part to the number of gun owners who’ll be turning out to cast a “Hell, no” vote in response to his “Hell yes we’re coming for your guns” mentality.