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O’Rourke on past remarks about taking guns: ‘Not interested in taking anything from anyone’

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke on Tuesday said that he has no “interest in taking” assault weapons from gun owners, apparently backing away from a position he took during his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Speaking to reporters in Tyler, Texas, this week, O’Rourke said that he wants to “defend the Second Amendment,” but argued that the state’s gun policy should be driven by law enforcement. He also hammered Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for signing a bill into law last year that allows Texans to carry handguns without a permit or training.

“I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone,” O’Rourke said, according to KLTV, the ABC affiliate in Tyler. “What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment. I want to make sure that we protect our fellow Texans far better than we’re doing right now. And that we listen to law enforcement, which Greg Abbott refused to do.”

O’Rourke said that Abbott “turned his back on [law enforcement] when he signed that permitless carry bill that endangers the lives of law enforcement in a state that’s seen more cops and sheriff’s deputies gunned down than in any other.”

O’Rourke also called for other measures to reduce gun violence, including expanding background checks for those trying to purchase firearms. 

A spokesperson for O’Rourke’s campaign declined to comment on the candidate’s latest comments on the record.

During a Democratic presidential debate in September 2019 — little more than a month after a deadly mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas — O’Rourke threw his support behind a mandatory assault weapon buyback program. 

“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

That proclamation drew cheers from Democrats at the time but drew intense criticism from Republicans and gun rights advocates. As governor of Texas, O’Rourke would not have the power to confiscate firearms.

Shortly after he announced his run for governor in November, O’Rourke defended his remarks, telling the Texas Tribune in an interview that while he would “vigorously protect that Second Amendment right” to own a gun, “most of us also understand that we should not have military-style weapons used against our fellow Texans.”

Tags 2022 midterms assault weapons ban Beto O'Rourke Greg Abbott Gun control gun laws Texas gubernatorial election Texas politics

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