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Type of Anti-gunner: Politician/Policy position holder
Name: Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke
Why is this type of person, or this person specifically a threat?
For some reason, Beto O’Rourke has staying power when it comes to politics right now. Most politicians that fail in their last several bids at election tend to fade out of mainstream view within a few months. Not so with Mr. O’Rourke. Notably he lost to Ted Cruz and Eventually to Joe Biden as a Senate candidate from TX and a Presidential Nominee seeker in 2020, respectively. He is an outspoken proponent for gun control – specifically related to “Assault rifles” as he refers to modern sporting rifles. This is interesting mostly because he is from Texas, and Texas is notoriously a gun safe zone regarding regulations across most of the state.
Though he is mostly a centrist on political issues, he is hard left on gun control matters. He is outspoken and unapologetic about taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens. This brash behavior in the very public eye has helped to shift some of the conversation boundaries. That is where a player like O’Rourke has value for gun control advocates – setting an extreme position to make less extreme positions seem more palatable to the general audience.
His extreme positions make him an easy poster boy for those who want to point to “mainstream figures embracing not-so-mainstream ideals”. The problem with that setup is that being a centrist in the progressive ideological set of today, makes you a hard left player, not a centrist. So the whole conversation is based on a misinterpretation of the actual starting points and boundaries. If he is seen as a centrist, he is more palatable as an extremist in singular viewpoints.
Despite some very public commentary from O’Rourke to Biden about Biden’s capabilities during the primaries, O’Rourke could likely see a position in the administration at some level, either as a figurehead or a consultant, or even at the ATF, if Beto’s political career continues to tank. There have been Biden comments about utilizing O’Rourke as the point man in gun control initiatives. It’s yet to be seen, with Xavier Becerra in the current Cabinet if a job for O’Rourke is necessary. After-all, it may be better to have a guy stay in Texas for the party, if he can get elected. O’Rourke hasn’t ruled out a run for Governor against Greg Abbott. His chances seem slim at this point.
If Beto doesn’t fade away in the next several months (by, say the end of 2021), you can guarantee that he will amp up anti-gun rhetoric.
Rating on how anti gun the person/entity is:
Extremely Anti-Gun, but mostly neutered by the fact that he holds no position of political power, and continuously get beaten in his races for positions. He is likely to re-emerge as a poster-boy if he can grab a position of some political power, or is instated as an administrative head in any gun-associated entity at the national level.
How long has this person or entity been in public view?
Relatively new on the scene, his more important public exposure ont eh gun-control front has been since about 2015-2016, and hit a peak in the Texas Senate race in 2018, and the Presidential Primaries for the Democrats in 2019-2020.
Notable quotes/Initiatives or legislation/proposed legislation
He said: “Hell Yes, We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” on a nationally televised Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate during the primaries in 2019.
Referencing a buyback, and increased regulations on sporting rifles: “I was asked how I’d address people’s fears that we will take away their assault rifles. I want to be clear: That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell their assault weapons. All of them.”
He has a PAC (“Powered by People”), which operates as a Hybrid Political Action Committee – the PAC is decidedly anti-gun. He also has a huge war chest for future political aspirations/campaigns.
Mr. O”Rourke is also seen as “an expert” on gun policy issues on many mainstream news outlets. The problem being, he has very little real understanding of the actual reported statistics, or even the purposes and operations of the firearms he is generally asked to speak about.
He continues to get airplay on just about any platform that has a gun-control agenda.
He has faded a bit from view in the COVID-led news cycle. However, at the time that this is being written, there has been a post-COVID uptick in “mass shootings” and the term “Ghost Gun” is starting to make the rounds; it could very well lead to a new highlight and uptick in press within the press for national gun control legislation come late 2021 and early to mid 2022.
While to many on the right, and especially within the very tight gun activism community, it is inexplicable that a relatively unproven politician has gotten as much airtime as he has, considering somewhat shady connections to the Latino community which he claims, and having lost so many campaigns. Furthermore, the fact that he is seen as an expert simply because he has an outspoken opposing viewpoint on gun policy seems to be a strange reason why he gets so much attention.
That said – something is working – people are voting for him in elections, he loses mostly by slim margins to heavily entrenched players, and he continues to get air time, even though he holds no position of power. If given the right platform, or if he manages to eek out another 1-2 year run for office (say, for Texas Governor), win or lose, it could be detrimental to gun policy in the next several years.
Even worse, as a later stage replacement for a “wayward” Biden Cabinet member or installed as an administrative chief, say in the ATF, or at the DOJ (despite holding no credentials that would seem to be an obvious fit), he could cause some difficulty for gun rights nationally.
The biggest threat now, however, is the money he perennially raises which is continuously going to fund more and more anti-gun talk.