The massacre by a deranged shooter in Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s home town of El Paso has renewed the candidate’s enthusiasm for running for the presidency, if not, if the polls are any indication, for people to vote for him.
O’Rourke’s two main campaign themes are that he wants your guns, at least those he thinks are “assault weapons,” and that the United States is a fundamentally racist country, founded on racism, filled with racists.
One supposes such a country should not allow the private ownership of firearms, following Beto’s logic to its conclusion.
In a piece in USA Today, Beto explained the reasoning behind his mandatory “assault weapon” buyback program with the earnestness of a man child.
“On Aug. 3, my hometown of El Paso, Texas — one of the safest cities in America — was attacked in one of the deadliest mass shootings in our country’s modern history. This was an act of white nationalist terror, and one we could have prevented.”
“All countries have video games. All countries struggle with mental health. All countries deal with hatred. But only America has more guns than human beings — 390 million firearms in a country of 329 million people — which kill nearly 40,000 people every year.”
“Some of the nurses, surgeons, and doctors heroically treating victims at Del Sol and University Medical Center in El Paso told me they hadn’t seen such horrific wounds since they were deployed abroad in our armed forces, saving the lives of soldiers on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“When the killer’s mother heard he had ordered an ‘AK’-type firearm, she wondered why her son, who was not enlisted in the military, needed a weapon like that. She was asking on behalf of herself, on behalf of her son, and on behalf of our country.”
“That’s why, as president, I would institute a mandatory buyback of every assault weapon in America.”
Beto did not open his mind to what he would consider an “assault weapon” to be. Previous assault weapon bans depended on cosmetic characteristics. If it looked like a military weapon, it was put on the list. Firearms with equivalent characteristics that looked like hunting rifles were not put on the list.
None of the firearms so designated were, strictly speaking, weapons of war or automatic weapons. Those types of weapons have been illegal for private ownership for almost a century.
The firearm that the shooter in El Paso used was a semi-automatic, which required a squeeze of the trigger for each bullet fired.
Beto’s source for the 40,000 deaths by firearms was from a survey done by the Everytown organization. He failed to mention that of that number, less than 13,000 were homicides. The majority, at just over 22,000 were suicides.
The rest included accidents and shootings by law enforcement. The vast majority of gun deaths are by handgun and not by the so-called “assault weapon” that Beto would like to see banned.
Beto also did not reveal how his mandatory buyback program would work. Presumably, it would be modeled after the one that took place in Australia after a mass shooting in 1996.
While the Australian buyback saw a reduction in gun-related crime, some analysts, according to a piece in Newsweek, suggest that the reduction was part of an existing downward trend and had no relation to the buyback program.
The same article suggests that local buyback programs in the United States have been ineffective in reducing gun crime. One reason seems to be that many people used to programs to raise some quick cash, sometimes to purchase newer firearms.
Also, since such buyback programs were run by law enforcement, the people who were most likely to use guns in the commission of crimes, criminals and the mentally insane, were less likely to participate.
Beto also did not reveal what penalties were involved for people who decline to hand over their weapons who were caught possessing them later. The candidate did not mention what might happen if a large number of gun owners decided not to comply.
Nor did Beto mention what might happen if, as many suspect, the courts were to strike down a mandatory gun buyback program on 2nd Amendment grounds.
For his part, Beto O’Rourke is undaunted.
“On this issue, Americans are more connected than we might imagine. We need to stop making assumptions and writing one another off, because only by coming together and finding common ground can we finally meet this moment, and start saving lives.”
History suggests that Beto may be fooling himself. His abysmal poll numbers would tend to support that view.