O'Rourke still shifting position on gun ban

AP Photo/LM Otero

Now, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke denies that his position has changed at all, but when you go from “Hell yes we’re coming for your guns” to “I don’t want to take anything from anyone,” I think it’s fair to call that a flip-flop.

O’Rourke’s position has apparently shifted yet again, at least based on his comments at the SXSW 2022 festival in Austin, Texas. O’Rourke was interviewed by Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, who gently quizzed the Democratic candidate for governor about where he stands on banning so-called assault weapons after O’Rourke criticized the state’s new Constitutional Carry law, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last year.

“You have seen a spike in gun violence,” O’Rourke claimed. “More cops or sheriff’s deputies or members of law enforcement have been gunned down in the state of Texas than in any other state. So when you hear b—s— about defund the police – and some folks support law enforcement, some don’t – Greg Abbott turned his back on those members of law enforcement who put their lives on the line for this community, and they’re losing their lives at a faster rate than in any other state because of it.”

It’s absolutely shameful for O’Rourke to try to pin line-of-duty deaths on the state’s Constitutional Carry law, especially as a way to deflect from the Democrats’ embrace of defund-the-police rhetoric over the past two years. Here’s the truth; officer fatalities are about 50% lower now than they were 50 years ago, when Vermont was the only Constitutional Carry state in the country.

It should also be noted that while Texas may have had the most law-enforcement deaths last year, that dubious distinction was also true in 2020 and in 2019, long before the state adopted Constitutional Carry.

And of course Texas is far from the only state to see an increase in violent crime since the start of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Most states have been dealing with the same trend, including the “may issue” states of California and New York. If O’Rourke wants to blame the increase in Texas on legal gun owners he certainly can, but I doubt that’s going to go over too well among voters, and it damn sure isn’t going to do anything to actually address the spike in crime.

Then again, neither will O’Rourke’s latest position on gun confiscation.

On the topic of gun control, Smith asked the candidate to clarify on his stance on the idea of confiscating assault-style weapons from Texans. After some prodding, O’Rourke gave a direct answer.

 

“I don’t think anyone should have one,” said O’Rourke. “And if I can find the consensus within the Legislature to have a law in the state of Texas that allows us to buy those AK-47s and AR-15s back, we will. As you said earlier, I cannot mandate or dictate anything as the next governor of the state of Texas. I’m going to have to do this by listening moving forward.”

So.. “Hell yes, I’d like to take your AR-15 and your AK-47 if I could find the votes to do it” seems to be where Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has landed for now. I’m not sure who exactly that’s supposed to please, but give him another week and he’ll likely have shifted his stance once again, especially if his poll numbers continue looking as anemic as they have been over the past few months.

O’Rourke was never going to have an easy time unseating Greg Abbott, but his incoherent and inconsistent messaging regarding his gun ban plan is helping to ensure that gun control will be a major campaign issue in a state where it’s highly unlikely that any new gun control legislation is going to be passed in the near future. That’s a net positive for Greg Abbott, who can talk about going after violent criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Texas while “Beto” O’Rourke talks about all the ways he’d like to criminalize the right to keep and bear arms itself. That message might resonate with gun control groups, but I suspect it’s going to leave most Texans seeing (and voting) red this November.