It's O'Rourke's gun control plans that are a joke

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

Did a heckler really laugh about the murder of school children at a campaign event for Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke on Wednesday night? No, but you’d have a hard time knowing that by reading the media reports about the incident, most of which offer some riff on the reporting from outlets like USA Today, which declared that O’Rourke lashed out after “a heckler laughs over Uvalde shooting.”

As my friend and colleague Ed Morrissey points out over at Hot Air, the brief laugh didn’t come as O’Rourke was talking about the horrific murders of 19 elementary school students and two teachers in the Texas town, but as the Democrat was offering up a false history of the AR-15.

O’Rourke took aim (SWIDT?) at the progressive bete noire AR-15 rifle, used by the shooter in Uvalde, and insisted that this had to be banned. O’Rourke argued that the AR-15 was designed for combat — falsely — and that it had been designed for use in Vietnam — again, falsely. When O’Rourke tried mimicking a combat stance to underscore both of those false points, someone in the audience understandably laughed out loud.

O’Rourke wasn’t discussing “details of the tragedy” when the laughter occurred, as The Hill reports. He was talking about how the AR-15 was designed to kill Charlie in ‘Nam and offering up his version of a combat stance. All of that was eminently laughable, as Beto clearly has no idea what he’s talking about here.

You can see the exchange for yourself here.

Ed does a great job of pointing out O’Rourke’s revisionist history when it comes to the AR-15, including the fact that it wasn’t “developed for use in Vietnam,” but honestly, the history doesn’t matter to O’Rourke or any of his supporters who believe his gun ban plans would prevent shootings like the one in Uvalde. It’s the fact that the AR-15 is available for sale that they care about, and while O’Rourke’s messaging on gun control has been all over the map during his gubernatorial campaign, after Uvalde he’s recommitted himself and his campaign to the premise that we can ban our way to safety.

Before O’Rourke called the attendee at the campaign event a mother****er, he was riffing on the fact that in Texas an 18-year old adult can walk into a gun store and legally purchase not just one AR-15, but as many as they can afford, along with “hundreds of rounds of ammunition.” If Texas law restricted gun ownership to those at least 21-years of age, O’Rourke argues, then the shooting at Uvalde would never have happened.

It’s an emotionally appealing argument, especially to non-gun owners or those who wouldn’t be impacted by a ban. Why not do this one simple thing if it would stop shootings like this from taking place?

There are lots of reasons, including the fact that a ban on gun ownership for those under the age of 21 is unconstitutional, but I don’t think O’Rourke or his supporters care about than any more than he cares about the accuracy of his retelling the history of the AR-15. But while O’Rourke and other Democrats want to focus on the gun used by the killer, they’re ignoring the individual responsible for pulling the trigger.

Even in states like California, which has the most restrictive gun control laws on the books, juveniles intent on arming themselves can easily, if illegally, do so. A gun-centric approach to reducing violent crime in general, and the incredibly rare incidents like the one in Uvalde in particular, is doomed to failure. A better approach would be to address the fact that, according to the Secret Service, more than 90% of individuals who target schools for attack communicated their threats beforehand, including the killer in Uvalde. If we really want to stop these attacks, we absolutely have to pay attention to these threats and respond accordingly, and that means bolstering mental health resources, law enforcement, and behavioral threat analysis; none of which are a priority for Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke or his gubernatorial campaign.