Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke seemingly extended an olive branch while protesting the National Rifle Association Convention in Houston on Friday. Just days earlier, a gunman entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers before being killed by law enforcement.
"To those who are attending the NRA convention across the street, you are not our enemies," O'Rourke said. "We are not yours."
O'Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor, is challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in November's general election, according to Ballotpedia.
He served in Congress from 2013 to 2019. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2018, but lost to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. He sought the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, but ended his campaign in November 2019.
In his current bid for governor, O'Rourke said on his campaign's website that he wants to close the "private sale background check loophole," create "an effective red flag law system," and enact "stronger domestic violence reporting laws" and "effective safe storage and child access prevention laws."
"And while it might not be the easy or politically safe thing to say, I don’t believe any civilian should own an AR-15 or AK-47," he said on his website. "When a gunman drove to a Walmart in my hometown of El Paso and managed to kill nearly two dozen of my neighbors with an AK-47 in under three minutes, it made it all too clear to me that it is far too easy for Texans to get their hands on weapons of war that are designed specifically to kill people in masses in as little time as possible."
Following Tuesday's shooting, O'Rourke confronted Abbott at a press conference update on the deadly incident, CNN reported Wednesday.
"Gov. Abbott, I have to say something," O'Rourke said, interrupting the news conference in Uvalde. "The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing."
He was rebuked by officials and elected representatives attending the news conference including Cruz, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick before being escorted out of the event by law enforcement, according to the report.
"Without warning, out of nowhere, there he appeared, saying things," the New Yorker reported Abbott telling reporters later. "I'm still shaking just thinking about it."
During O'Rourke's presidential campaign, he made a debate appearance with the rest of the Democratic field and declared that, if elected, he would seek to take guns out of the hands of Americans.
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," CNN reported O'Rourke said to applause in the debate hall at the time. "We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."
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