Chuck Schumer says Democrats don’t agree with Beto O’Rourke on guns
Published 1:15 PM EDT Sep 19, 2019
The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, is the latest to pile on to Democratic criticism of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for president and wants to institute a mandatory assault weapons buyback.
At last week’s presidential debate, O’Rourke sparked outrage when he made the comment, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
His policy plan includes a mandatory government buyback of “assault weapons and voluntary buyback for handguns.”
Democrats and Republicans alike were swift in their condemnation of O’Rourke, arguing that it made it harder for both sides of the aisle to reach a compromise on gun control legislation.
More: NRA bashes O’Rourke with petition: ‘Tell Beto NO’ to gun buybacks
Schumer weighed in on that conversation in a call with reporters on Wednesday, according to the local Times Union newspaper in Albany, N.Y.
“I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke, but it’s no excuse not to go forward,” Schumer said.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware has said of O’Rourke’s statement, “I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.”
In fact, a few Democratic presidential hopefuls have expressed support for similar assault weapon buyback proposals.
Asked if she supports a mandatory buyback of assault weapons earlier this month but before O’Rourke’s remark, California Sen. Kamala Harris responded “I think it’s a good idea,” according to Bloomberg.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, too, told Vox in an interview last month that he supports “a buyback program and a mandatory turnover.”
“Now, what the consequences are for that — I do not think we should be going out and arresting people for having guns,” Booker said. “I think that is language that is being used by the right and by the gun lobbies to try to scare people away from an assault rifle ban.”
Both candidates serve in the Senate alongside Schumer.
More: Beto O’Rourke tells Trump to ‘do the right thing’ as the two feud over guns
Another Democrat running for president, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, supports mandatory buybacks.
“We cannot have assault weapons in our society. We’ve seen the devastating impact, they need to be banned. And that means, by definition, you don’t leave millions and millions of them out there. The buyback is the obvious approach,” he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Recent national polls also show a solid contingent of Americans support mandatory buybacks of assault weapons. An ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted at the beginning of September found that 52% of respondents support it. A separate Quinnipiac University poll from late August had 46% of respondents in agreement, including 71% of Democratic respondents and 18% of Republicans.
O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, was the site of a recent mass shooting, one of several that have prompted Democratic lawmakers to push for gun control reform legislation.
In the wake the El Paso shooting and another in Odessa, Texas, Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell to bring background check legislation that was passed by the House early this year to the Senate floor.
President Donald Trump has also weighed in on O’Rourke’s remarks, calling him “Dummy Beto,” and accusing him of complicating a bipartisan deal.
Trump has wavered in his support for new gun control legislation, and the Senate majority leader has said he will defer to the president’s decision on which measures to support before putting any legislation to a vote in the Senate.
Trump said in an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday that “we’re not moving on anything.”
“We’re going very slowly in one way because we want to make sure it’s right. We’re doing a very careful job. We’re working with the Democrats, we’re working with Republicans,” he continued.
“Part of the problem that we have is because of Beto O’Rourke’s statement about taking away guns,” Trump said.