Democrat gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is back to endorsing mandatory gun confiscation again, after a recent series of public flip-flops on the issue.

When campaigning for Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018, O’Rourke largely stayed away from the issue, with his campaign focusing more on his skateboard-riding, Whataburger-eating persona. He did, however, say during a radio interview, “We support the Second Amendment; if you own a gun, keep that gun. No one wants to take it away from you. At least, I don’t.”

After Texas voters rejected him, O’Rourke attempted to fail upwards, running unsuccessfully for the Democrat nomination for president, where he lunged to the far left—especially on restricting gun rights.

O’Rourke famously proclaimed in a 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate in Houston, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” in support of mandatory gun buyback programs that would essentially confiscate currently legally owned military-style rifles.

“If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47—one of these weapons of war—or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate … then that weapon will be taken from them,” O’Rourke continued. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement.”

After O’Rourke’s bid for president sputtered, he set his sights on the governor’s mansion. He is currently the Democrat nominee against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. As soon as O’Rourke returned to Texas, his whiplash-inducing rhetoric changed again. 

In February, O’Rourke stated at a campaign event in Tyler, “I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone. What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment.” This statement was, of course, a far cry from the gun-grabbing manifesto he spouted during his presidential campaign, leading many observers to believe he was tamping down his tone on the issue in an attempt to appeal to more moderate voters.

Following last week’s tragic shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, that strategy appears to have been flipped yet again.

Just one day after the massacre, O’Rourke boisterously interrupted state officials during a press conference meant to provide information and resources to grieving families. Many criticized O’Rourke’s outburst, in which he said the tragedy was “predictable,” as an attempt to bring attention to himself and his campaign.

Now, he’s back to calling for gun confiscation.

At a campaign event this week, O’Rourke echoed comments he made during his presidential run, saying he didn’t care if it wasn’t “politically popular” or “too honest.”

“Not only should no one be able to purchase an AR-15 or AK-47 … I don’t think that the people who have them now for civilian use should be able to keep them.”

His comments come as Texas Democrats are calling for a special session of the state Legislature to increase gun control efforts. On Wednesday, Gov. Abbott asked the Legislature to develop proposals on “firearm safety” and “mental health,” among other issues.

Abbott has not indicated whether he will call a special session.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens

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