- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 1, 2019

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas doubled down Sunday on his call for a mandatory buyback of “assault weapons,” including AK-47 and AR-15 firearms, in response to the deadly shooting Saturday in West Texas.

“Yes, this is f–ed up,” Mr. O’Rourke said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Mr. O’Rourke is running as a candidate in the 2020 presidential race. “If we don’t call it out for what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly, if we’re not able to act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America. And I cannot accept that.”

A gunman shot and killed seven people and wounded 19 others after a traffic stop Saturday in Midland, Texas. The gunman shot at police and at random passersby before abandoning his vehicle and hijacking a postal truck. He was killed in a shootout with law enforcement outside a movie theater in Odessa.

In addition to universal background checks and a federal red-flag law, Mr. O’Rourke has called for the federal government to buy back as many as 15 million semiautomatic rifles, including AK-47 and AR-15 models, as well as gun-registry and licensing systems.

“It is really important that we buy back those weapons of war that are out on our streets right now — millions of them,” Mr. O’Rourke said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”



It’s not enough to expand background checks or prevent their further sales, Mr. O’Rourke said, while acknowledging that such steps would be helpful. “Weapons of war” must not be on the streets at all, he said.

“If millions of them remain on the streets, they will still be instruments of terror that terrify and terrorize us and take our lives, and I will not accept that,” he said.

Not long ago, the idea of compelling gun owners to relinquish their firearms under the threat of government force, even if there were financial reimbursement, would have been anathema. But the prospect has gained steam on the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign trail, fueled by recent mass shootings.

At least two candidates who have since dropped out of the presidential race, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, have expressed support for mandatory firearms buybacks.

Such proposals have run into opposition from gun-rights groups and Republicans. Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, said Sunday that he opposed proposals to wrest firearms from law-abiding gun owners.

“I believe in the Second Amendment. I don’t want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. I want to focus on the people that have mental illness. That’s my focus,” Mr. Scott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Asked whether he thought there were “too many guns,” Mr. Scott said, “There’s too many people that have mental illnesses that we’re somehow not addressing, and they have access to weapons, and they shouldn’t.”

Others have said that pushing for mandatory buybacks could backfire politically on Democrats, potentially dooming any gun control package by “making millions of law-abiding firearm owners criminals for not selling their rifles back to the federal government,” as USA Today said in an Aug. 22 editorial.

About 393 million firearms are in the hands of private U.S. owners, more than one for every person in the country, according to a 2018 Small Arms Survey.

Asked whether such a plan went too far, Mr. O’Rourke said that “people live in terror now.”

“More than I worry about the politics or the polling, more than I care about what the NRA has to say on this, I care for my kids and this country,” he said.

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