In an about-face from what he said as a 2020 presidential candidate, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Tuesday that he's ''not interested'' in forcing Texans to turn in their guns.
''I'm not interested in taking anything from anyone,'' O’Rourke told reporters in Tyler, Texas, the ABC affiliate KLTV reported. ''What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment. I want to make sure that we protect our fellow Texans far better than we're doing right now. And that we listen to law enforcement, which Greg Abbott refused to do.''
According to O'Rourke, Abbott ''turned his back on [law enforcement] when he signed that permitless carry bill that endangers the lives of law enforcement in a state that's seen more cops and sheriff's deputies gunned down than in any other.''
The permitless carry bill eliminates the requirement that Texas residents obtain a license to carry a handgun if they're not prohibited by state or federal law from gun ownership, the Texas Tribune reported. The legislation also eliminates the training requirement.
Expanded background checks for gun purchases are among the other measures O'Rourke has called for to reduce gun violence.
He voiced his support for a mandatory gun buyback program in a September 2019 Democratic presidential debate.
''Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,'' O’Rourke said then. ''We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.''
His comments came just a month after a deadly mass shooting at a Walmart in O'Rourke's hometown of El Paso.
Though his position was praised by Democrats, it drew fierce criticism from both Republicans and gun rights supporters.
Should his campaign be successful, O'Rourke would not have the authority to confiscate firearms as governor of Texas.
In a November interview with the Texas Tribune, O'Rourke defended his comments.
''Most of us understand the responsibility that comes with owning a firearm,'' O'Rourke said. ''But I think most of us also understand that we should not have military-style weapons used against our fellow Texans.''
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