The Most Surprising Thing About the Democrat’s Latest Debate

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posted on October 17, 2019
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“If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47 ... then that weapon will be taken from them. If they persist, there will be other consequences,” said presidential wannabe Beto O’Rourke at the Democratic debate on October 15.

O’Rourke’s “buy-back plan” (to be more accurate, gun-confiscation scheme) for the over 16 million politically incorrect semi-automatic rifles American citizens now own was even too dramatic a position for many of the other candidates on the debate stage.

Though all the leading Democratic candidates want to ban America’s popular semi-automatic rifles, they seem to prefer, at least for now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approach of banning the rifles and then leaving the, in New York state’s case, hundreds of thousands of people who own one or more unregistered AR-15-type rifles technically in violation of the law.

At the CNN debate, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, actually called O’Rourke out on his confiscation plans.

“Congressman, you just made it clear you don’t know how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets,” Buttigieg said to O’Rourke, before pivoting to an attack on the NRA. “I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal. The problem is not other Democrats who don’t agree with your particular idea of how to handle this. The problem is the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress, and we should be united in taking the fight to them.”

O’Rourke sophomorically pushed back by saying, “When you, mayor, describe this policy as a shiny object, I don’t care what that meant to me or my candidacy. But to those who have survived gun violence, those who have lost a loved one to an AR-15 or an AK-47, marched for our lives, formed in the courage of students willing to stand up to the NRA and conventional politicians and poll-tested politicians, that was a slap in the face to every one of those groups and every survivor of a mass casualty assault.”

That some candidates are willing to step back, even a little, from O’Rourke’s gun-confiscation rhetoric is surprising. The New York Times actually notes in a recent article that the “2020 Democratic presidential candidates are far more forceful and united on gun control than their predecessors, endorsing a wide range of policies that past nominees sidestepped or rejected, according to a New York Times survey of the 19 campaigns.

The Times’ survey of the candidate’s positions notes that all 19 Democratic candidates support an “assault-weapons” ban. It reports that former Vice President Joe Biden is calling for a ban on all online sales of guns and gun parts and that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wants a 30% excise tax on guns and a 50% excise tax on ammunition. They also found that 13 of these Democratic candidates want to require a license to own a gun.

Most of these candidates for president even said “they were prepared to take executive action, push to eliminate the Senate filibuster, or both in order to enact them.” Ending the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule so that a simple majority, not the 60 votes now needed to break a filibuster, would allow a future president to push through whatever they want with only bare majorities in both houses of Congress.

In this election season, even simple reporting of these candidates’ positions on the Second Amendment would sound like hyperbole to anyone who, say, has been off the grid for a few years.

(Frank Miniter’s latest book is The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide to the Workplace.)

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Philip Schreier
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