In Texas, someone who’s all talk with little to show is said to be “All hat. No cattle.” Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, with his gun confiscation schemes, wears a hat to block out the sun. That’s not stopping him from eyeing a possible run for Texas governor in 2022.
O’Rourke, a former Democratic Texas U.S. Congressman, aimed for higher office and missed the target. He was soundly defeated by incumbent Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. He launched a presidential campaign, in 2019, based on strict gun control that crashed and burned after only seven months.
Given the historic gun sales from 2020 and the continuing trend in 2021, O’Rourke should listen to voters and hang up his hat.
Round ‘Em Up
O’Rourke has plenty of gun confiscation scheme highlights, but he’s most notable for declaring, “Hell Yes, we’re going to take your AR-15!” on the debate stage. He continued to say that Americans who don’t turn in their guns would face “consequences.”
He was arguing for his plans for a mandatory “buyback” program on all lawfully-owned Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs). Of course, the government would use taxpayer dollars to seize something they never owned. “Buyback” is a misnomer. It’s more like coerced surrender of private property.
Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019
O’Rourke later waffled when faced with the violation of Constitutional rights his confiscation plan would set off. He added those who didn’t want to watch their private property hauled off by government agents could register them under the 1934 National Firearms Act. It’s a position adopted by the Biden administration that carries a $34 billion tax bill.
That scheme would require a national gun registry which is a non-starter for Second Amendment supporters and gun rights legislators. Recent survey data shows MSRs are the most popular-selling centerfire rifle available, with more than 20 million MSRs in circulation today.
O’Rourke’s wants Texas to go the way of California with a gun control platform that includes universal background checks that criminalize private transfers, support for unworkable microstamping requirements, banning adults under 21 from owning a gun, gun rationing limits of one-gun-per-month and more. He’s big on limiting the rights of law-abiding Americans, not so much for criminals.
Gun Czar No Go
O’Rourke’s Texas senate campaign against Sen. Cruz fell flat after he was soundly rejected by Lone Star voters. His 2019 short-lived presidential campaign did even worse. After President Joe Biden all but secured the Democratic nomination in 2020, O’Rourke joined him at a campaign rally in Dallas to formally endorse him.
Biden returned the favor and praised O’Rourke, saying, “I’m gonna guarantee you this is not the last you’ve seen of this guy! You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re gonna to be the one who leads this effort. I’m counting on you.”
So far, it’s been crickets from the Biden administration. That has O’Rourke out job hunting and he’s eyeing the governor’s mansion in Austin and a challenge to incumbent Republican and Second Amendment advocate Gov. Greg Abbott who during his State of the State address said, “Last session, I signed 10 laws to protect gun rights in Texas. This session, we need to erect a complete barrier against any government official anywhere from treading on gun rights in Texas. Texas must be a Second Amendment sanctuary state.”
Lone Star State Landscape
If O’Rourke is in fact considering a run for governor in Texas, he shouldn’t be surprised by a third straight loss. Gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Giffords, as well as failed presidential candidate billionaire Michael Bloomberg, all spent millions to flip legislative seats for gun control, with a focus on winning Texas. Those seats never flipped and it’s no surprise why.
Through 2020, Americans voted for their Second Amendment rights by purchasing guns in historically high numbers. They saw community violence, rioting and calls to “defund the police” – including by O’Rourke – and chose to exercise their inherent right to self-defense and to keep and bear arms.
In 2020, more than 21 million background checks for the sale of a firearm were run by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS). That includes over 8.4 million first-time buyers. It’s not slowing down, either. More than 2 million checks werde run in January of 2021.
O’Rourke’s backing for gun bans and buybacks won’t bode well for him on the Texas ballot.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.