Beto O’Rourke
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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By Larry Keane

Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke made a political turnabout for the history books and likely shot himself in the foot among his key constituency.

The former failed 2018 Texas Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and 2020 presidential candidate bolstered his gun control celebrity status with his infamous “Hell Yes!” debate response. He’s figuring out that’s not a good thing in Texas and recently changed his tune.

O’Rourke claims to want to defend the Second Amendment and isn’t interested in taking anyone’s gun. Just days after that, The Reload reported he didn’t abandon his original ideas on confiscation, but is focusing on “common ground” if he were to be elected Texas governor.

Dramatic Turnaround

O’Rourke, a former Democratic Congressman, built up a fandom among national gun control groups for his rabid support for gun control. He used that support base to mount a U.S. Senate campaign challenge against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018 and came up short.

Just a few months later he launched a presidential campaign piggybacking off his national support from gun control groups. On the debate stage he was asked if he supported a mandatory gun confiscation scheme.

Beto O'Rourke gun control confiscation
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

“I am if it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield,” O’Rourke shot back. “Hell yes! We’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

He was forced to drop out soon after and his campaign lasted less than eight months. President Joe Biden told him he’d be needed to solve the “gun problem” and just four months ago O’Rourke again doubled down on his previous pledge as he launched his gubernatorial bid, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I still hold that view.”

Now, he’s challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. His tune on firearms has changed faster than a Texas prairie fire spreading in a tail wind.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Asked recently by Texas media less than two weeks ago if he still held his views on firearms, O’Rourke remarked, “I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone. What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment.”

What’s Changed?

O’Rourke’s firearm flip-flop is one for the ages. He attempted to frame his comments as that he wanted to “listen to law enforcement,” and criticized Gov. Abbott for signing into law Texas’s new permitless carry bill last year. That bill won the backing of the state’s legislature through the support of voters and Texas joined 20 other states that have Constitutional carry.

Notably, gun ownership has surged in the past two years. Over 21 million Americans submitted a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification to purchase a firearm in 2020. That number was 18.5 million last year. All told, almost 14 million of those buyers were purchasing their first ever firearm. What’s more, an average of 35 percent of those buyers were women and huge numbers of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans bought firearms as well.

To even have a shot at the Governor’s Mansion, O’Rourke has read the Texas tea leaves and made a calculated call. Above and beyond Texans’ existing strong heritage and tradition of supporting the Second Amendment, those national trends reverberated throughout The Lone Star State too.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

FBI data shows nearly 2 million Texans submitted a NICS check to purchase a firearm in 2021. The year before it was even higher at more than 2.3 million. In Texas, applications for first-time pistol permits peaked in 2020 at 316,000 after averaging closer to 165,000 per year between 2017-2019.

Eagle Gun Range owner David Prince, who operates ranges in Lewisville and Farmers Branch, told local media he wasn’t surprised by the surge in new business or by the changing demographics of who was buying their firearms.

“The difference in demographics has been staggering,” Prince said. “We have increased the fold of Second Amendment supporters.”

Prince added that safety and security concerns drove the majority of firearm sales.

“People were now not just afraid for their food source, they were afraid for their personal safety,” Prince said.

Pricey Flip Flop

O’Rourke recognized he had no shot at governor as long as he continued to hold his gun control views. Not in Texas. But flip-flopping in such a conspicuous way likely hurt him more than helped. Strong Second Amendment voters still aren’t going to cast their ballot for him and gun control advocates who saw a hero now see a turncoat. Early polling doesn’t bode well, either.

Election 2020 Beto O'Rourke
I said what? (AP Photo/John Locher)

A recent poll conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Politics Project released Monday show Gov. Greg Abbott maintaining a 10-point lead over O’Rourke.

No Democrat has won statewide in the Lone Star State in almost 30 years. That’s a steep hill to climb without the self-imposed wound from his gun control turnaround.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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    • Because, all the other progressives, democrat platform, and things like BLM officially support the same policies, but they are usually better at hiding it or disguising it or avoiding it with their media handlers where it counts. Beto has been very effective in pulling the mask down, and for that, I appreciate him.

      Also we need to be sure he doesn’t get away with changing his tune to clench a win when there is clearly no change of heart or mind.

      • I would have said, back then, that no real Texan would vote for that cretin but my beloved Texas has been infested with communists and other traitors.

    • This is like the third article about him on TTAG in as many days, yet he’s a completely irrelevant clown. What’s the deal with the lavish coverage?

    • If anyone thinks beto has risen above the mental illness he displayed in his documented youthful diabolical manifesto they are only fooling themselves. His writings back then are nothing compared to the history of the Gun Control rot the deranged beto proudly caters to today.

  1. Hey people are stupid. Beato came close against Ted Cruz. And slow Joe was “elected”presidon’t. The ho is brokering “peace” in Ukraine. We’re doomed…

    • Walker,

      Yeah, the inept idiot, Beta O’Jerk, failed narrowly against . . . possibly on of the most unlikeable people in the Senate. After substantially outspending him, primarily with out-of-state money.

      The idiot Left gets wood every time one of their candidates even comes within shouting distance of defeating a conservative. They managed to game the idiot Leftist Raphael Warnock into the Senate . . . and no sentient human thinks he has a chance of getting re-elected. They are going to lose YUGE in November, and probably in 2024. They won’t learn anything from the experience of getting curb-stomped in November, nor will the Republicans learn anything from their failure to capitalize on this. It’s all bukkake theater.

      I would be interested in seeing, if the Republicans could grow the stones, what would happen in 2024 if the Republicans got control of the House and Senate, and passed national CCW reciprocity, repealed the idiotic, unconstitutional NFA, cleaned up our effed up voting system, and closed our borders to ILLEGAL immigration. I would predict a Republican sweep, but . . . that ish is never going to happen, because the entire Republican Party can’t muster one functional nard among themselves.

      Leftists are stupid and deluded, but they are PERSISTENTLY stupid and deluded. Stubborness will often get you further than actual intellect – ask dacian and MinorIQ.

  2. The fact that there are still people in Texas willing to vote for this fool is still scary, even after his lies and back pedaling. Abbott only has a ten-point head start over Beto? It goes to show there is a stupid voter in every state. The fact that Cruz barely won in the senate race against this joker is sobering.

    • THIS ^^^^^ All day!

      KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov’s warning to America: “You are stuck with them”

      YEARS AGO, Soviet defector and KGB operative Yuri Bezmenov, specializing in the fields of Marxist-Leninist propaganda and ideological subversion; warned us about the silent war being waged against America as part of a long term plan to take over and destroy the American system and way of life.

  3. Like most of his Democrat colleagues Beto is a hypocrite and people are really fed up with these people saying do as I say not as I do. They think everyone but them is stupid, and they can say or do anything they want without people really noticing. Now while we have plenty of people in this country who are in fact clueless most Americans understand full well what is going on.

  4. After the last time he tried to get elected in Texas by being who he really is. A liberal Anti 2nd Amendment Democrat. He has resorted to the tried and true Liberal tactic of ALAR. Act Like A Republican in hopes that potential voters, short memory span will fall for his sudden. Come to Jesus moment of supporting the 2nd Amendment. Only to call “Psych” after being elected. Nothing new here.

  5. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is the POSTER BOY for a lying ass Democrat Poli who’ll say ANYTHING and ANY LIE to Americans to stay pertinent or get elected/re-elected.
    And to think there’s Americans who were stupid enough to have voted this POS into office.

    • Not even THOSE nitwits could defend Beta O’Dork. He is done. His daddy-in-law will find him some sinecure position where no intelligence is required (because he doesn’t have any), and no work is performed, and he will quietly waste away as the mooching nonentity that he is.

      MinorIQ, dacian the stupid, enuf . . . want to put some money down on Abbot vs. O’Dork??? I’ll take a piece of that action.

  6. Beto O’Dork may try to change his tune, but it won’t play. He is speaking with forked tongue when he says he wants to defend the 2nd Amendment and then follows that with but I still want to take AK 47s etc or any weapon of war. A toothpick is more likely to support an elephant that sits on it than politicians like Beto are going to change their tunes.

  7. If it wasn’t for family money the Beta Boy would be working the gig economy in Austin and complaining about the disproportionate unfairness of the American capitalist system.

  8. He’s a Democrap, and like all the others, will say and do whatever is necessary to get elected. Plenty of RINOs that do the same thing, and that’s why they are RINOs.

  9. The party has been trying to prop this guy up to do SOMETHING for years, even as basically no one else likes him. I’m worried that after a series of failed campaigns (that will be called quixotic by the left, rather than ‘stupid’) they’ll find a place for him where he won’t have to be elected. AG or even a judgeship.


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