Beaumont gun advocates up in arms about O’Rourke visit – Beaumont Enterprise


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Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Beto O'Rourke’s ground campaign has been rolling in earnest for a few days now as he visits cities across Texas, but he’s still being followed by comments from his presidential campaign.

Chiefly, a pledge by the then-Democratic presidential primary candidate made in 2019 to “take your AR-15, your AK-47” during a debate has been prompting protesters to meet O’Rourke at several of his campaign stops.

Thursday night’s meet-and-greet at Luke’s Bar and Grill in downtown Beaumont was no different, as roughly a dozen people across the street waved banners known as the “Gonzales Flag” emblazoned with “Come and Take It” and carrying long guns.

The gathering’s organizer didn’t want to talk on the record with the Enterprise, but said that the protest was supposed to be a peaceful reminder to candidates like O’Rourke that Texans take gun rights seriously.

Other attendants, like Chris Breaux, said they saw online posts about the protest and decided to attend as a way to send a message about how Texans feel about O’Rourke’s policies, but it wasn’t necessarily a protest against the politician's campaign.

“I don’t really support either front-runner candidate, at this point,” Breaux said. “I can say that if he hadn’t made the comments that he did, there probably wouldn’t be people having a gun protest across the street.”

O’Rourke’s comments originated from a question during a Democratic debate about whether candidates supported buy-back programs and restrictions for so-called “assault-style weapons.”

A mass shooting had occurred a little over a month prior in El Paso, where a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle killed 23 people and injured 23 more at a Walmart. The shooting has been called the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern U.S. history.

It was under that context that O’Rourke, who was born in and previously represented El Paso in the U.S. House of Representatives, gave the enthusiastic response of “hell yes”” when asked the question about gun control. He later defended that answer in a Nov. 22 interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.

“We are a state with a long proud tradition of responsible gun-ownership, and most of us here in Texas do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war,” O’Rourke said.

To Chris Myers, a Beaumont resident that demonstrated with long-gun in hand, those comments are what he said he assumes most Democratic candidates stand for when it comes to gun control.

“It’s always their view that they want to suppress or control you, and that starts with taking away your ability to defend yourself,” Myers said. “Those comments should give any person the ammunition to make up their mind about what he really stands for.”

O’Rourke isn’t the only Texas politician facing opposition when it comes to guns.

U.S. Rep Dan Crenshaw (R-TX District 2) has been fighting back against accusations from gun rights groups that his support of a military spending bill inadvertently triggered “red flag” laws that would take away guns from owners.

“So why have so many on our own side misled you about it? Fundraising mostly,” Crenshaw said in a message to supporters. “They want to make you outraged because then you will click on their article or donate money to their organizations.”

But that argument didn’t carry too well with the crowd outside Luke’s.

“People like Crenshaw won’t make it through the next election,” Josh Billiot, a protestor, said. “Anyone who doesn’t defend the Second Amendment is part of the problem.”

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