O’Rourke, responding to a question on Sept. 12 on whether the so-called buybacks he’s proposed would be mandatory, said: “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
“We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore,” he said, at one point claiming the guns are not used for hunting.
Cain took to Twitter late Thursday to alert O’Rourke, who responded by posting a screenshot of the missive and saying, “This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else.”
This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else. pic.twitter.com/jsiZmwjMDs
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019
You’re a child Robert Francis https://t.co/rU3WoYQFQV
— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧 (@BriscoeCain) September 13, 2019
Cain’s tweet was later removed by Twitter. A spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News that it violated Twitter’s rule that “you may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”
“At the end of the day, I believe that Briscoe Cain is going to follow the law,” O’Rourke told reporters after the debate.
“I think it’s a really irresponsible thing for him to do. … We are a nation of laws and if that [gun confiscation] ends up becoming the law, we expect people to comply with it.”
Cain responded to O’Rourke’s death-threat claim by writing: “You’re a child Robert Francis,” using O’Rourke’s given name.
Responding to another person on Twitter who asked if he was threatening to shoot O’Rourke, Cain simply replied, “You’re an idiot.”
O’Rourke’s campaign told CNN reporter Leyla Santiago that they were reporting Cain’s post to the FBI.
State Reps. Mary Gonzalez and Erin Zwiener, both Democrats, were among those criticizing Cain over the post.
“In case you forgot, people were just killed in El Paso. People were murdered. The language you are using and the way you are using it is dangerous. We need leaders who want to change our culture of violence,” Gonzalez wrote.
In case you forgot, people were just killed in El Paso. People were murdered. The language you are using and the way you are using it is dangerous. We need leaders who want to change our culture of violence. #txlege https://t.co/4pjgJjTN4A
— Dr. Mary E. Gonzalez (@RepMaryGonzalez) September 13, 2019
This language is dangerous. We, as Texas electeds, have to be better. Language like this contributes to deaths. https://t.co/bdO38AtX1F
— Erin Zwiener (@ErinForYall) September 13, 2019
Beto O’Rourke: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15”
What Beto doesn’t realize is that when he goes to take our AR-15s, we’re going to defend ourselves with… our AR-15s.
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 13, 2019
While Cain’s missive drew heavy criticism, others said that it wasn’t a death threat.
“Briscoe’s little gun flounce is not a true threat for several reasons,” said attorney Ken White. “First, it’s rhetorical political hyperbole on Twitter. Second, it’s conditional and about a hypothetical future—he will use his gun if Beto comes to get it.”
“Based in those, a reasonable person familiar with the context would not interpret it as a statement of sincere intent to attack Beto with an AR-15. Nor is it likely he intended it as other than blustery defiance. Not a true threat. Not, in my view, a close call.”
Other conservatives reacted to O’Rourke’s declaration with similar posts.
“What Beto doesn’t realize is that when he goes to take our AR-15s, we’re going to defend ourselves with … our AR-15s,” said political strategist Caleb Hull.