Beto Shoots Gun-Control in the Foot

Beto’s rousing call to forcibly disarm is creating a major backlash that will undermine Democratic candidates. And gun-control efforts.

Former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Prairie Meadows Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

Beto’s Breakout Blunder

Presidential candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke issued a rousing call to forcibly disarm American citizens during the debates this week.

In so doing, he shot the gun-control movement momentum right in the foot.

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we’re not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore.” — Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke.

“Hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15.” might look good on a tee-shirt. Beto’s campaign certainly wasted no time in hawking them online.

It’s a good line. Delivering it perfectly- and with the signature profanity Beto affects when he wants to be seen as “serious” or “edgy”- certainly netted O’Rourke the coveted “viral breakout moment” every candidate has been vying for during the debates since this overcrowded race for the Democratic nomination began.

His rallying war-cry might have gone over gangbusters with the liberal mob on Twitter. But in his fight to remain relevant in a presidential race that increasingly seems to be leaving him far behind, former Representative Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has done irreparable harm to the gun control movement.

What is perhaps worse, is that O’Rourke has undermined 20-years of careful work by gun-control advocates. Work which was getting close to paying off, as more and more lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started to approach the negotiating table on guns.

Conservative gun-rights advocates want a safer America, just like everyone else. Even Alyssa Milano admits it. They just disagree with liberals about how best to get there.

The moment has certainly gone viral. Unfortunately for O’Rourke, and for the Democratic Party, it has gone viral for all the wrong reasons, made all the wrong people very happy, and has done far more to advance the cause of the NRA than that of those who oppose it.

See, the problem is that gun-control advocates have been working for decades to convince voters on both sides of the aisle that the confiscation of legally-owned firearms and a repeal of the 2nd amendment is not the gun-control endgame.

Most Americans support background checks, in theory. Most Americans support some sort of federal registry that can help prevent dangerous people from acquiring deadly weapons, in theory.

The reason they don’t vote for such measures in practice, the reason such votes often fail, is that these steps are seen as the means to an ultimate end; that of a gun-free America.

Now that such a high-profile Democrat and candidate for president has revealed that the ultimate goal is in fact confiscation, there is no walking back from such a position.

Anything that can be viewed by gun-rights advocates as the first-step in a slippery slope towards gun-confiscation, will be viewed as such.

After O’Rourke’s no doubt carefully scripted outburst, the NRA, whose political capital had been dwindling, has gained new life, and new ammunition to use against the Democratic party.

And all its efforts to cut back, check, qualify, or otherwise impede gun sales in the United States.

“I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns. I don’t think a majority of the Senate or the country is going to embrace mandatory buybacks. We need to focus on what we can get done.” — Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware)

Sen. Coons is absolutely right. And he’s not alone.

“The lines like, ‘We’re gonna come and take your AR-15,’ just play into fears that the NRA has been stoking, and a proposal like that is just going to make rural Iowa and I think probably rural areas elsewhere more red. I think that’s just a bridge too far for most rural folks, and it conjures up images of the government coming in and invading your home and images of big government trampling over the rights of individuals.” — Warren Varley, Democrat who lost a race for a seat on the Iowa State legislature in 2018

The gun lobby and gun-rights advocates have already fallen upon O’Rourke’s comments like ravening fiends.

“This is what their goal is. We’ve always said it, now they’re saying it. Now they’ve said it and we’re going to make them eat it.” — Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation

President Trump, who will be facing the eventual winner of the Democratic nomination in 2020, also wasted no time in reminding supporters and donors that, while he isn’t the politest person on the planet, Democrats have become, let’s say, overly ambitious.

“Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans, so they are totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house.” — President Donald Trump, at a Republican retreat in Baltimore Thursday night.

How far will the other Democratic candidates go to outdo O’Rourke and achieve the nomination?

None of O’Rourke’s fellow aspirants onstage at the debates went so far as to contradict him. Other candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker have also called for mandatory buybacks, albeit less theatrically. At this week’s debate, only Sen. Klobuchar was sensible enough to suggest voluntary buybacks as at least preferable to mandatory ones.

Next time, Democratic candidates should give the people what they really want: A show of hands as to who will move to confiscate legally-owned guns in America if elected president.

That way, Democratic opponents will have a video clip that is just as compelling as O’Rourke’s spirited threats to confiscate 16 million legally purchased firearms from law-abiding American citizens.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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