Beto O’Rourke Says Guns Would ‘Be Taken’ From People Who Don’t Give Them Up Under Proposed ‘Buyback’

October 15, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said that guns “will be taken” from people who don’t follow his proposed plan to outlaw AR-15s and AK-47s.

O’Rourke is the Democratic presidential candidate who was asked at the September debate whether he’d force Americans to give up their guns and answered, “Hell yes.”

At the Oct. 15 debate, O’Rourke was asked how he’d enforce the so-called mandatory buybacks. Some gun rights experts say it is confiscation because the government never owned the guns in the first place.

“If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, as we saw when we were at Kent State recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” he said. “If they persist, they will be other consequences from law enforcement.”

O’Rourke said that his law would involve law enforcement going “door to door,” alleging: “We don’t go door to door to do anything in this country to enforce the law.”

“I expect Republicans, Democrats, gun-owners, non-gun-owners alike to respect and follow the law,” he said.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, was asked about how he referred to mandatory buybacks as confiscation. He asserted O’Rourke doesn’t know how buybacks would work.

Democratic presidential hopefuls South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, left, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, center and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke participate of the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on Oct. 15, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“You just made it clear that you don’t know how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets,” he said. “If you can develop the plan further, I think we can have a debate about it. But we can’t wait.”

“We can’t wait for purity tests, we have to get something done,” he added.

“This is not a purity test,” O’Rourke said, championing ideas like universal background checks.

“Let’s decide what we are going to believe in, what we are going to achieve, and let’s bring this country together to do that,” O’Rourke said.

He said lawmakers shouldn’t “be limited by the polls, the consultants, and the focus groups” in terms of what bills or executive orders they pass. Polls consistently show minority support for O’Rourke’s plan.

Democratic Presidential Candidates In Ohio
Democratic presidential candidates on stage at Otterbein University in Ohio on Oct. 15, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“The problem is not other Democrats who don’t agree with your particular plan,” it’s the National Rifle Association and other pro-Second Amendment groups, Buttigieg said.

“I never took you or anyone else on who disagrees with me on this issue,” O’Rourke said.

Buttigieg said he wants something to get done, calling it “really important.”

“We are this close to an assault weapons ban that would be huge,” he added.

Other candidates who support a buyback include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

O’Rourke said during a recent appearance when asked if his plan would hold up if challenged in court that he didn’t know. “But fear of that uncertainty shouldn’t prevent us from doing the right thing,” he said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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