Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke stood by his call for a mandatory government buyback program for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles during Thursday night’s presidential primary debate in Houston, saying “Hell yes” the government would take the firearms from their owners.
“Are you proposing taking away their guns and how would this work?” asked ABC moderator and “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, referring to O’Rourke’s proposal for cracking down on mass shootings.
“I am,” the former Texas congressman responded, “if it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield.”
He added: “If the high-impact, high-velocity round when it hits your body shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers.”
Speaking earlier this month in Charlottesville, Va., O’Rourke introduced his proposal: “Americans who own AR-15s, AK-47s, will have to sell them to the government. We’re not going to allow them to stay on our streets, to show up in our communities, to be used against us in our synagogues, our churches, our mosques, our Walmarts, our public places.”
In the Thursday night debate, O’Rourke spoke about a mother whose 15-year-old daughter was shot and killed by an AR-15 in a mass shooting earlier this month in Odessa, Texas. “And that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15,” he said, raising his voice.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he shouted over cheers from the audience. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
Ahead of Thursday’s debate, candidates were instructed by both host network ABC News and Democratic Party officials to watch their language. The warning came after O’Rourke dropped an F-bomb on the campaign trail following the massacre in El Paso.
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