The failed senatorial and presidential contender said earlier this week that he has “no interest in taking” assault weapons from gun owners.
“I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone,” O’Rourke said to reporters in Tyler, Texas. “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.”
The flip appears to be driven by the polling numbers, and comes just a few months after O’Rourke full-throatedly backed a mandatory buyback for AR-15s and other so-called assault weapons.
“Most of us understand the responsibility that comes with owning a firearm, and we will vigorously protect that Second Amendment right and also protect the lives of those around us,” he told The Texas Tribune, calling them weapons designed for the battlefield. “But I think most of us also understand that we should not have military-style weapons used against our fellow Texans. We have four of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history right here in Texas that took place over the last five years.”
O’Rourke has been engaged in an intricate acrobatics routine about the most popular rifle in America since his failed Senate bid in 2018.
The Texas Democrat made headlines in 2019 after saying, “Hell yes,” he would take people’s AR-15s away if elected president while gunning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
O’Rourke’s enthusiastic backing of the government taking away certain firearms from Americans was in stark contrast to his 2018 stance.
“We support the Second Amendment, if you own a gun keep that gun, O’Rourke said in 2018. “No one wants to take it away from you, at least I don’t.”
Texas has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the U.S., and the Second Amendment voters are some of the most active in the nation.
When asked if the latest flip-flop was due to polling numbers and if O’Rourke could clarify his stance on the issue, the Democrats’ campaign pointed to his campaign website.
“And while it might not be the easy or politically safe thing to say, I strongly believe that we need to reduce the number of AR-15’s and AK-47’s on our streets,” the website reads. “When a gunman drove to a Walmart in my hometown of El Paso and managed to kill nearly two dozen of my neighbors with an AK-47 in under three minutes, it made it all too clear to me that it is far too easy for Texans to get their hands on weapons of war that are designed specifically to kill people in masses in as little time as possible.”
Since leaving the House to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for his seat in 2018, O’Rourke’s political career has steadily shifted from public-office holder to perennial candidate.
O’Rourke lost to Cruz in 2018 before launching his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, which he did not achieve.
His presidential bid sputtered in the primary as he took his signature, radical stance on gun confiscation and now-President Biden took the nomination.
Often times, presidential primary candidates are chosen for Cabinet positions or administrative roles — something the Biden administration passed him over for entirely, illustrating O’Rourke’s politically toxic image.