Michael Moore praises O'Rourke on gun reform

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore praised former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) for not wavering on his calls for a mandatory gun buyback program for assault-style weapons.

O’Rourke faced backlash from both sides of the aisle for his strong rhetoric during last month’s Democratic primary debate for saying, “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, AK-47.” 

But Moore defended the presidential hopeful for having the courage to stand up for his convictions, noting that the Democratic Party should do the same. 

“We need to have some courage,” Moore, who has endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOutrage erupts over Breonna Taylor grand jury ruling Dimon: Wealth tax 'almost impossible to do' Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death MORE (I-Vt.) for the 2020 nomination, said during an interview that aired Saturday. “No Republican had ever said it, but no Democrat had ever said it. Beto O’Rourke was the first to say we’re coming for your AR-15s.”

Moore maintained that Democrats shouldn’t have gone after O’Rourke for the remarks, arguing that his proposed gun buyback program would be supported by Democratic voters.

“Democrats went there to trash Beto O’Rourke for saying that, but if you watch the debate, it is the only moment where the audience flew out of their chairs and erupted in a standing ovation because that’s what the people want,” he told Hill.TV. 

Earlier this month O’Rourke hit back at fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Hillicon Valley: FBI, DHS warn that foreign hackers will likely spread disinformation around election results | Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day | Trump to meet with Republican state officials on tech liability shield MORE after the South Bend, Ind., mayor accused O'Rourke of picking a fight with him over the merits of a gun buyback program in order to stay relevant.

“Pete can belittle the grassroots; he can call buybacks a 'shiny object.' He can say whatever he wants, but guns kill 40,000 people each year,” O’Rourke tweeted in response to Buttigieg's comments. “Those people deserve action. I’ll be fighting for them.”

O’Rourke’s average support on polling aggregate site RealClearPolitics is 2.3 percent behind entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangDoctor who allegedly assaulted Evelyn Yang arrested on federal charges The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden weighs in on police shootings | Who's moderating the debates | Trump trails in post-convention polls Buttigieg launches his own podcast MORE at 2.5 percent and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle Nearly 40 Democratic senators call for climate change questions in debates Joe Biden has long forgotten North Carolina: Today's visit is too late MORE (D-Calif.) at 5.3 percent.

The former Texas congressman has yet to qualify for next month’s Democratic debate in Atlanta. To make the stage, candidates have to garner support from at least 165,000 unique donors and register at least 3 percent in four qualifying polls or 5 percent in two early-state polls by Nov. 13.

—Tess Bonn