- - Monday, October 21, 2019

In the program for an exhibition of his works at a museum in Stockholm in 1968, pop artist Andy Warhol famously predicted “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” The phrase “15 minutes of fame” has since come to describe anyone or anything that’s a short-lived blip on the pop culture or media radar.

Fast-forward 50 years, and that “future” is now. The latest manifestation of Warhol’s prediction is one Robert F. “Beto” O’Rourke. The former Texas Democratic congressman’s 15 minutes of fame were up last November after he lost a U.S. Senate race to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, but apparently, no one thought to tell him.

Mr. O’Rourke didn’t need to find a real job after losing the Senate contest (in which he became a liberal media darling for nearly upsetting Mr. Cruz, whom they loathe) because he’s married to the daughter of a billionaire, so this “1 percenter” by marriage instead opted to fail upward.

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Despite serving three terms in the House that were at best undistinguished, Mr. O’Rourke surveyed a weak Democratic presidential field for 2020 and concluded that his closer-than-expected Senate contest entitled him to serious consideration for the party’s nomination for president.

Despite his Kennedy-esque (as in “Robert F.”) looks, Mr. O’Rourke’s presidential bid has thus far failed to generate much traction. In polls, he’s languishing among the also-rans in the field of 12 candidates who took part in the Oct. 15 Democratic presidential debate just outside of Columbus, Ohio, only narrowly ahead of novelty candidate Andrew Yang.

In a desperate bid to stand out in a crowded field all pandering, to a greater or lesser extent, to the party’s far-left base, Mr. O’Rourke has hitched his wagon to the most fanatical of the anti-Second Amendment gun grabbers with a call last month for a mandatory government “buyback” of all AR-15 and AK-47 semi-automatic weapons owned by private citizens.

Citing the mass shooting in Odessa and Midlands, Texas, two weeks earlier that left seven dead and 25 injured, Mr. O’Rourke fired a rhetorical blunderbuss at a Sept. 12 Democratic debate. “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he thundered. “We’re not going to allow it to be used on fellow Americans anymore.”

That Mr. O’Rourke had not thought through the logistics — much less the legality — of his proposed ban and “government buyback” of what he called “weapons of war that have no place in our homes” is self-evident.

Never mind that the 99-plus-percent of Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s and don’t go on shooting rampages didn’t buy them from the government in the first place. As such, how can the government buy them “back?” Semantics aside, what about owners who have no desire to sell them “back” at what the government decides to pay — or at any price, for that matter?

“I fully expect my fellow Americans to follow the law,” Mr. O’Rourke said, when asked about that on CNN on Oct. 16. Some would comply, of course, but it also raises what should be an obvious question: What would a President O’Rourke do about those who don’t — or won’t — voluntarily surrender their AR-15s or AK-47s?

Would he order armed federal agents to go door to door to confiscate those guns? Would he attempt to dragoon state and local law enforcement officials to assist in the police-state effort? What if the lawmen refused on constitutional grounds? And as CNN’s Alisyn Camerota reminded Mr. O’Rourke, mass shooters “don’t follow the law, by definition.”

The backlash to Mr. O’Rourke’s ill-conceived pronuncimento was as swift as it was deserved. The owner of Alpha Dog Firearms in Tempe, Arizona, put the weapons on a “Beto Special” sale and reportedly sold out within four hours. The National Rifle Association awarded him the distinction of “AR-15 Salesman of the Month” adding, “Possibly even of the year.”

Mr. O’Rourke’s anti-gun jihad calls to mind then-NRA President Charlton Heston’s broadside at the gun rights group’s convention in May 2000. Holding up a Revolutionary War-era flintlock rifle, Heston taunted that year’s Democratic presidential nominee-to-be, Al Gore — and others of like mind — that if the government sought to confiscate his gun, it would have to be pried from his “cold, dead hands.”

But it was a conservative website that had the best riposte for Mr. O’Rourke’s risible proposal. It has produced for sale a T-shirt that reads, “Nobody needs an AR-15? Nobody needs a whiny liberal either, yet here you are.”

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