We’ve all seen the movies where a hero takes a stand all by himself or herself because everyone abandons him or her or refuses to do the right thing. These scenes are usually a dramatic moment that sets the film’s climax in motion.
And then there’s Robert Francis O’Rourke. He had a similar moment at a forum featuring Democratic presidential candidates recently. Only this moment wasn’t heroic – just embarrassing.
Axios reports that, at Tuesday night’s Giffords/March for Our Lives gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Beto O’Rourke was the only 2020 Democratic candidate who supported mandatory gun buybacks, even as the field has remained united on enacting gun control measures. While O’Rourke is the only candidate who stood up for forcing Americans to give up certain guns. other candidates supported voluntary gun buyback programs.
The fact no one else would be pressured to follow him shows how the rest of the field is being careful to distance themselves from what they view as a polarizing position and instead stick with pushing a voluntary buyback program as a way to appeal to the center.
When fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg mused that the debate over gun buyback programs is a distraction from the larger issue of gun control for Democrats, O’Rourke fired back.
“I heard some of the comments made today on this stage,” O’Rourke said when it was his turn. “Those who are worried about the polls, or want to triangulate or talk to consultants or listen to focus groups — and I’m thinking about Mayor Pete on this one, who I think probably wants to get to the right place but is afraid of doing the right thing right now.”
“To those who need a weatherman, buybacks are supported by a majority of Americans,” he continued.
To an extent, Beto is right. 59% of those surveyed support a mandatory gun buyback program, but an even higher percentage – 76% – are in favor of a voluntary program.
O’Rourke admitted his awareness that his position could hurt him as well as other Democrats, but he continued to hammer home the assertion that he only wants the government to buy back “weapons of war” – his new favorite little phrase.
Gun control will continue to be a priority for 2020 Democrats, even if O’Rourke stands alone on mandatory gun buybacks. But at the end of the day, Beto is still way down in the polls, and his stance on buyback isn’t likely to win him enough support to push him over the edge.
But hey, at least he tried the trick even if he falls on his face in the process.