Beto O’Rourke is standing by his pledge to “take guns away from Americans if we are elected” as the Democrat who is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz faces criticism for his stance on the issue.
In an interview that aired on Tuesday night on “Good Morning America,” O’Rourke claimed that “I have never supported a take-it-away strategy.” But he maintained that, “I support a take-it-away toolkit.”
That stance came after critics attacked O’Rourke for expressing support for a “red flag” law that would allow law enforcement to seize firearms from a violent person, without a legal recourse for that person.
One critic of the “take guns away” proposal was Alex Farah, who co-authored the book “American Taliban: The Rise of the Nation of Islam in the L.A. Riots.” Farah told Time.com that he was shocked by O’Rourke’s public stance.
A convicted felon, I am also familiar with the reality of where Governor [Rudy] Guiliani of New York got his weapons. I know how common-sense gun control legislation makes our streets safer and gives people a sense of security. To equate taking guns away from law-abiding Americans, based on information from hearsay and speculation, is preposterous.
Even the White House weighed in on the debate, offering a sarcastic rebuttal.
“Is Beto O’Rourke against taking guns away from felons in order to send them back into our communities to victimize others?” tweeted White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Is Beto O’Rourke against taking guns away from felons in order to send them back into our communities to victimize others? — Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) August 22, 2018
Along with O’Rourke, a group of former U.S. congressmen, many of whom also represent Texas, released a statement earlier this month saying that they would support a gun bill if, instead of repealing the Second Amendment, Congress cut gun deaths in half by focusing on the mental health crisis.
The statement reads:
When gun violence harms and kills American citizens, we must act. Even as we debate constitutional rights to bear arms, we must acknowledge that sensible legislation can save lives. We, the undersigned, oppose any plan to repeal or weaken the Second Amendment as the sole approach to gun violence prevention.
On Wednesday morning, Matt Lira, who runs Open Carry Texas, tweeted that this was not the first time that he had come under fire for his support of the repeal of the Second Amendment:
Just remembered how bad our poor police were after they couldn’t stop someone carrying AR-15s on a single day in Texas. This was 2017. pic.twitter.com/NH6PRqnRgU — Matt Lira (@mattlira2) August 22, 2018
However, rather than the lack of public support that Markle and Lira both noted in their tweets, it appears to be the origin of Lira’s criticism. During his time in Congress, O’Rourke and Lira were often on opposite sides of legislation. While Lira decried the repeal of the Second Amendment, O’Rourke became known for his fierce support of the “red flag” proposal.
But it was not O’Rourke’s support for the proposal that led to the rebuke from the White House and criticisms from such well-known gun control advocates as former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Instead, it was O’Rourke’s conditional support for the idea of taking guns away from law-abiding gun owners.
It was Giffords who stood alongside O’Rourke during an “open carry” rally last month, where the two of them both carried firearms.
The separation between the two brought O’Rourke into conflict with his first-term predecessors, Bill Richardson and Lloyd Doggett, both of whom were opponents of “red flag” legislation. Doggett was so vocal against the idea that his office sent out a letter during the 2013 to 2014 session regarding the bill. But when the Texas legislature passed the measure during the 2017 session, Doggett initially supported the proposal but ultimately ended up voting against it.