Debates 2020

Beto O'Rourke Still Has No Idea How He'd Actually Seize Americans' Guns

Asked how he'd actually follow through on his promise to "take your AR-15," the former Texas congressman didn't have much of an answer.


Presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke has talked tough about taking Americans' guns—but he's still not sure how he'd actually do it.

O'Rourke was confronted during the second hour of Tuesday's Democratic primary debate by debate moderator and CNN host Anderson Cooper about the candidate's promise to "take your AR-15" from last month's debate. In response, O'Rourke offered little in the way of substance.

Cooper pointed out that O'Rourke's campaign website calls for fining people who will not turn over their semiautomatic weapons—it is silent regarding the obvious follow-up question of how an O'Rourke administration would know which households to fine, but we'll leave that aside for now. "That doesn't take those weapons off the street," said Cooper. "So, to be clear, exactly how are you going to take away weapons from people who do not want to give them up, and you don't know where they are?"

O'Rourke's response? If someone refuses to turn in their semiautomatic rifles, "or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate—as we saw when we were at Kent State recently—then that weapon will be taken from them."

"If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement," he said, before adding that he expects Americans will "do the right thing" and follow these laws. "We don't go door-to-door for any other laws in this country, we're not doing it here," said O'Rourke.

A couple of things about that.

First of all, if he's going to continue invoking Kent State in his gun control screeds, someone really ought to tell O'Rourke who did the shooting in the infamous Kent State massacre. Spoiler alert: it wasn't the law-abiding American citizens practicing their constitutional rights.

Second, all this stuff about Americans "doing the right thing" and following the law is nonsense. There's no obligation to obey an obviously unconstitutional gun grab. As a practical matter, history suggests most people won't.

When New Jersey implemented a mandatory gun buyback program in the early 1990s, the state obtained a mere 18 guns of the estimated 100,000 to 300,000 firearms owned by Garden State residents—and only four were turned over voluntarily. Australia's much ballyhooed gun buyback program netted between 650,000 and 1 million firearms, about a quarter of the estimated number of guns owned by Australians at time. It is estimated that there are more than 350 million privately owned guns in the United States. Taking the rest would require a massive mobilization of federal, state, and local law enforcement.

Third, this is a long, long way from "Hell, yes, we're going to take your guns." And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe that's a signal that O'Rourke realizes he's not going to be able to order law enforcement officers to go door-to-door to strip people of their Second Amendment rights.

But this reveals something else about O'Rourke's promises to seize Americans' guns: This was never a realistic policy that could actually be implemented—or even passed by Congress. As Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote last month, "vicious scapegoating is the whole point" of O'Rourke's gun grab.

After Tuesday's debate, that seems more clear than ever.

But one of the consequences of O'Rourke's fixation on gun takings is that it's created space for other candidates to stake out other outlandish positions that seem downright reasonable by comparison. On Tuesday night, both Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) spoke favorably about passing an "assault weapons ban" if elected.

"We are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge," said Buttigieg.

Would it? America had an assault weapons ban from 1994 through 2003, and it didn't have any effect on the number of gun homicides in the country. There are probably a few reasons for that—identifying guns as "assault weapons" is an imprecise science, one that's based largely on cosmetic details. More importantly, most gun homicides in America are committed with handguns—not AR-15s or AK-47s.

O'Rourke doesn't know exactly how he's going to remove guns from American streets—but that's okay, because gun homicides are on the decline anyway.

O'Rourke can't acknowledge that reality or many of the other basic realities of the gun debate. Instead, he's left with tough talk and not much else.

NEXT: 'Police Violence Is Also Gun Violence' Says Julian Castro, Arguing Against Mandatory Gun Buybacks

Debates 2020 Guns Election 2020 Beto O'Rourke Elizabeth Warren Pete Buttigieg Democratic Party Presidential Primaries

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60 responses to “Beto O'Rourke Still Has No Idea How He'd Actually Seize Americans' Guns

  1. I wonder how he will take the guns from his Secret Service detail.

  2. Beto O’Rourke Still Has No Idea How He’d Actually Seize Americans’ Guns

    You can just stop there.

    1. He’s a fucking idiot. I think he — personally — should go around, house to house, collecting all the “assault” weapons. It’ll be a really good job for him, after he’s finally unemployed as a politician.

      1. “He’s a fucking idiot.”

        That’s an unjustified insult to…..idiots everywhere.

        1. As an idiot, I feel attacked.

      2. Do you think if he demanded them be handed over in Spanish it would help?

      3. Exactly, who would this spoiled brat send to disarm people. A very dangerous job. Let him go first and see how it works out for him.

  3. Buck Feto!

  4. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement,” he said, before adding that he expects Americans will “do the right thing”

    He better hope they don’t.

    1. “He better hope they don’t”? Really? I trust Americans to do the right thing!

      1. You trust Americans to do the right thing? They haven’t done it yet – and Home Depot’s right there selling all the rope they’d need to do the right thing.

        1. Which aisle are the woodchippers in?

          Asking for a friend.

          1. Tell your friend that Home Depot doesn’t sell the big tow-behind-a-dump-truck size needed to effectively deal with politicians.

      2. I (mostly) trust Americans to do the right thing, too. From his comment, I think Unicorn does, too.

        What I think you’re missing is that the “right thing” we all trust Americans to do would very much not be the thing that Beto thinks.

  5. “I bagged four that day! There’s nothing like hippie honey!”


  6. This exceptional fuckhead actually thinks all he has to do is pass a law, and people will automatically obey it.

    I realize he might have gotten that impression considering all the other rights we’ve given up, but anyone implementing a “mandatory” buyback would find himself with a no-shit rebellion in short order. Forget the white militia members; no way the Mexican gangbangers in the Rio Grande Valley will give up their guns, either.

    1. It’s especially ironic coming from a self-proclaimed punk rocker, a group of people known for voluntarily following all laws and regulations.

  7. Is this really happening?
    Can’t be.

  8. I guess Beto still hasn’t figured out that Americans, by nature, don’t like authority. So yeah, his plan will work flawlessly!

    1. Boy, we sure have a strange way of showing our ‘disdain for authority!’ Liberty is trending downward because most Americans LOVE authority, so long as it’s directed at someone else – preferably someone they dislike or disagree with.

      An example of this that I see virtually daily are the people cheering on the ‘Constitutional Sheriffs’ and LEO who swear up and down that they’ll never violate the 2nd Amendment. The same people then willfully ignore their otherwise horrific track record where the 4th Amendment and the unconstitutional Drug War and asset forfeiture and so on are concerned.

      But yeah, this chip-chip-chipping away at the 2nd Amendment won’t end well.

      1. “…most Americans LOVE authority, so long as it’s directed at someone else – preferably someone they dislike or disagree with.”

        Added to my repertoire of pithy sayings, thank you.

        1. +1,000!

  9. “We’re coming to take your guns.”
    “Okay. Come and get them”
    “Err, never mind.”

  10. I guess Beto could order the military and police to go house to house and confiscate firearms, but I think there would be quite a violent backlash to that policy.

    1. Well, he could order the military as commander in chief, but those guys take an oath to the constitution, not the president, and are required to refuse to obey illegal orders. (ignore Little Rock)
      He could try to get congress to pass a law withholding federal funds if local cops don’t try to confiscate guns, but he can’t just give state and locals direct orders.

      1. I have a lot of military in my family, and work with a lot of veterans in my line of work. Every single one I’ve asked about this has said that an order to go confiscate guns would be the last order they received as a member of the military.

        Some of the more, let’s say colorful, members of this group intimated that they may stop by the base armory on their way out to make sure all those guns got confiscated first.

        1. Yeah, this is always the thing I wonder about with the progressives. I guess they don’t know anyone who owns guns, because they consider that taboo, but plenty of the very people they’d like to send to violate the second amendment rights of americans are in fact its staunchest supporters. And I doubt the remainder feel like getting shot at over it.

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  12. I suspect he has some idea how he’d do it, and even he isn’t stupid enough to say anything like, “After we slaughtered the first ten thousand holdouts, the rest of you chumps would fall in line.”

    He is stupid enough to think that slaughtering the first ten thousand holdouts would result in the rest falling in line, rather than a revolution.

    1. I think after the first 10K people shot through their own front doors killing the person knocking then they wouldn’t be able to find anyone to knock anymore and the idea would vanish.

  13. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement,” he said, before adding that he expects Americans will “do the right thing”

    Probably correct. Because despite the press focusing on the bad behavior of cops, I suspect law enforcement would refuse to follow an illegal directive from the president, who has no authority over real cops, just the federal kind.
    So about a third of the FBI has guns, maybe 15k to 20k agents.
    About half of the BATF are gun-toters, say 3K.
    Add in the Marshals, DEA and all the other known and unknown, federal cops, you get MAYBE up to 100k. To face down the entire population.
    A couple of Wiki tidbits:
    1. American civilians own more guns “than those held by civilians in the other top 25 countries combined.”
    2. U.S civilians own 393 million guns. That is 3 times as many guns as the armed forces of the Russian Federation (30.3 million), China (27.5 million), North Korea (8.4 million), Ukraine (6.6 million), United States (4.5 million), India (3.9 million), Vietnam (3.8 million), Iran (3.3 million), South Korea (2.7 million), Pakistan (2.3 million), and all the other countries (39.7 million) combined.

  14. Estimates from an Mexican security consultant.
    Mexicans have 3 million legal civilian type guns registered with the Mexican army with permission by the Mexican army.
    Mexicans have 12 million illegal unregistered military type guns.
    Mexicans have 40 million illegal unregistered civilian type guns.

    Beto wants the US to have Mexican style gun control. That won’t work out well for anyone. The black market in Mexico is supported not only by criminals but also by otherwise law abiding citizens, because traveling to the one legal gun store in the Mexican capital run by the army is impossible for the majority of Mexican citizens.

  15. Actually, none of them have any idea how they would do it. It’s just more obvious in a case like Beto’s, since he’s not politically savvy enough to hide his true intentions.

  16. My prediction is that leftists will use different tactics to attack gun owners instead of actual physical confiscation. It’ll start with a nationalized database, then eventually they’ll use that database to levy an annual “sin tax” on gun owners and all purchased ammunition. The tax will gradually increase until Americans give them up to avoid paying the unaffordable penalties associated with them.
    No democrat has the backbone to come to your front door to ask for your gun. They’ll go in through the back door where your wallet is first. Somewhere along the line we gave these scum the power to control our paychecks if we don’t adhere to their demands. That was a mistake.

    1. First, they will claim a “moral victory” for having “done something” and then they will use whatever legislation to carry out exactly what you summarize; an incremental chipping away and imposing financial and other penalties until you fully comply. It’s the Democratic way, sniveling and cowardly as it is.

    2. Easy enough to avoid, when they send out the form asking if you have any guns you’d like to register in the database, just check the “no” box. Databases aren’t magic, they need accurate data or they’re worthless.

      This is why none of Beto’s ideas will ever work. Even if he wanted to go door-to-door, he has no ideas what doors he needs to go to. Searching every home isn’t feasible (or remotely legal), at some point you’re relying on gun owners to be honest about their ownership, and what they’ll learn is that many gun owners lost all their guns in very unfortunate boating accidents shortly after the gun control legislation passed.

      1. Even better, we can register Beta (and many of the other gun grabbers on that debate stage) as having illegal machine guns.

    3. Well, that assumes that the current gray market in guns won’t just expand to overtake the “legit” market. I would certainly expect americans who want to buy guns to be able to find other enterprising americans who want to sell them guns, and I sincerely doubt the government will be able to do anything about it on the scale that it would be happening. The only likely outcome would be that guns that are currently illegal and difficult to obtain (like the actual full-auto AKs that the blue team erroneously claims you can easily buy now) will become as easy to purchase as their opponents claimed they were before the laws.

  17. This aptly named “scapegoating” serves to keep him in the news [if not at all relevant] and, I think more importantly, “it’s created space for other candidates to stake out other outlandish positions that seem downright reasonable by comparison.”

    ‘No, I won’t try to take your guns like Beto over there, I only want to impose a few little restrictions here and there…’

    He’s just playing a fucking role that is perfect for such a fuckhead.

    1. Damn your enemies are next level.

      1. And damn your eyes, Marty Feldman.

    2. That’s pretty astute. He is playing the part of pulling the entire party further left so that Warren can maintain the illusion of being somewhat centrist or rational. PPPPFFFFTTT

      1. PPFFTT indeed.

        Even a true fuckhead like Tex Kennedy knows at some point that just isn’t going to get any traction. So what does such a limp candidate do but whatever they can to influence the outcome. Ask for a lot, and at least get a little. Which is still better than none.

  18. It doesn’t really matter what this fool thinks or wants because he’ll never be elected to anything. Most of America realizes that he’s an idiot.

    1. I mean, I think if anyone didn’t realize it before, last night sealed the deal when Buttigieg and the announcers pressed him on how he’d do it and all he could come back with is “I’ll tell them and they’ll obey”

      1. “What do you mean how? We’d pass a law, duh.”

  19. “When New Jersey implemented a mandatory gun buyback program in the early 1990s, the state obtained a mere 18 guns of the estimated 100,000 to 300,000 firearms owned by Garden State residents…”

    Close enough for government work…

  20. O’Rourke has a simple plan to confiscate guns in America.
    A person would get a lollipop for every gun he turns in, but the flavor issued would be up to cop who takes the gun.
    You can’t have it both ways.

  21. “Comrades! The insurrection of five kulak districts should be pitilessly suppressed. The interests of the whole revolution require this because ‘the last decisive battle’ with the kulaks is now under way everywhere. An example must be demonstrated.

    Hang (and make sure that the hanging takes place in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known landlords, rich men, bloodsuckers.
    Publish their names.
    Seize all their grain from them.
    Designate hostages in accordance with yesterday’s telegram.
    Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of kilometres around the people might see, tremble, know, shout: “they are strangling, and will strangle to death, the bloodsucking kulaks”.

    Telegraph receipt and implementation.

    Yours, Lenin.

    Find some truly hard people”

    1. I found this guy by the name of “Stalin” which I find pretty lame.
      But I’ll give him a shot.
      What do we have to lose?

  22. You know, the UTEP library has a replica of the Come And Take It flag flown at the beginning of the Texas Revolution. Beto really should have taken a look at it while he was representing the area in Congress 2013-2019 . . . or, perhaps, when he was burgling the campus in 1995.

  23. Lucky for him that pigs are occupying force LARPers who can’t wait to do house to house gun confiscations.

    1. They might talk a big game, but if you take a look at all these outrageous use of force incidents happening, it’s pretty clear these cops are terrified of their own shadows. I certainly do not expect them to attempt a confiscatory regime that they can clearly see is gonna get them in a shooting war with the most heavily armed members of their precincts with anything like enthusiasm. Probably, they’ll hew and haw about it assuming they don’t outright refuse.

  24. I nominate Beto to lead the charge to confiscate guns from Americans . He can start on the South side of Chicago.

  25. He just does not want to admit it will involve warrantless searches in predominantly black neighborhoods.

  26. “I trust Americans to do the right thing!”

    Yes beta male I do too. And that is not to follow any un-constitutional laws you tool!

  27. What the fuck is “full semi-auto”???

  28. Can we just boogaloo yet?

  29. “Beto” is a self-impressed doofus who believes his political career is the equivalent of charitable donations to good causes. (“I don’t need to contribute money because, like, I contribute so much of myself.”)

    He has torched himself with too many Texans to have a real political future here. What he does still have is the ability to raise money from left wingers so that he can continue to pay the political consultants who are egging him on (so that they can continue to get paid, of course).

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