By Dave Workman
Perhaps the lingering question in the aftermath of the most recent Democratic presidential debate is whether former Texas Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is naïve or just plain stupid in his repeated insistence that if a law banning so-called “assault weapons” were passed, the millions of citizens who own them would dutifully line up and turn them in.
In appearances on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough, O’Rourke insisted first that he is “not talking about confiscating anybody’s guns,” and then dove straight into a scenario where guns would have to be surrendered or “there has to be consequences.”
But, as noted by the Daily Caller, O’Rourke clings to his belief that turning in guns is exactly what law-abiding citizens would do.
“But my faith is in this country and in my fellow Americans,” he told Scarborough, “following the law and listening to people who own AK-47s and AR-15s, who concede they don’t need it for self-protection. They don’t need it to hunt. Its real true purpose and use is on a battlefield.”
He made the same argument to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, insisting, “Our fellow Americans will follow the law. … If we pass this law, then I expect our fellow Americans to follow the law and this is not speculation. We’ve seen other countries do this.”
Second Amendment activists have been tilting back in disbelief. First, they note, many other countries do not afford their citizens a constitutional protection of the fundamental right to keep and bear arms (aka, our Second Amendment). And, as Scarborough argued with O’Rourke, some people will simply refuse to give up their guns.
O’Rourke fired right back, as noted by the Washington Examiner:
In that case, I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm and to make sure that it is purchased, bought back, so that it cannot potentially be used against somebody else.
Whatever O’Rourke might call that scenario, it boils down to confiscation by law enforcement of firearms. The Democratic candidate was careful to insist that the gun would be “purchased” by the police, but in the gun rights community, that’s being called “compensated confiscation.” It is the sort of thing that at least some on social media have suggested would lead to a second Civil War. Whether that war would play out in election booths or on urban battlefields is hard to say, but the latter eventuality is certainly possible.
But this whole notion suggests that for someone who had served in Congress, O’Rourke has a stunning lack of understanding about the Constitution and the law, and he is totally out of touch with this nation’s gun owners. He claims to have talked to owners of AR-15 and AK-47 rifles who said they would surrender their guns, but none of these individuals has come forward to confirm the story.
Possibly the only thing O’Rourke has accomplished is to keep alive the impression American gun owners have that Beto is bonkers, and that he and his fellow Democrats fully intend to confiscate privately-owned firearms.
At least, he may think that’s going to happen. Waiting in the wings is a battalion of attorneys and Second Amendment scholars, supported by rights activists, who have quite the opposite in mind.
Dave Workman is an award-winning career journalist and senior editor of TheGunMag.com (formerly Gun Week). He also writes for Liberty Park Press, Conservative Firing Line, and several firearms periodicals. He is also the communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.