In Texas — a state known for its obsession with guns — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O'Rourke has been campaigning on moderate gun control, stressing that while he isn't anti-2nd Amendment, there is no reason why Texans should have easy access to semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Uvalde massacre. The former congressman laid out his arguments for stricter control of semiautomatic weapons at a townhall event in Mineral Wells, Texas on Wednesday night, August 10. And when he was interrupted by a laughing heckler, he shut the man down in a hurry.
On May 24, 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot during by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas west of San Antonio — and O'Rourke told the crowd that they were "shot to death with a weapon originally designed for use in combat" that was "legally purchased by an 18-year-old." Texas' gun laws, O'Rourke noted, allowed the shooter to easily purchase an AR-15-style "weapon that was originally designed for use on the battlefields in Vietnam to penetrate an enemy soldier's helmet at 500 feet and knock him down dead."
When a heckler laughed at O'Rourke, the gubernatorial nominee angrily responded, "It may be funny to you, motherfucker, but it isn't funny to me, OK?" And O'Rourke's passionate response got him a big round of applause from his supporters in the crowd.
O'Rourke's gubernatorial campaign underscores the progress that Democrats have been making in Texas, which still leans Republican but is now light red rather than deep red. The former congressman and El Paso native has been trailing incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in recent polls, but Abbott doesn't have the type of huge double-digit leads that Republicans typically enjoyed in statewide races in Texas during the 1990s and 2000s. A University of Houston poll found Abbott leading O'Rourke by 5 percent, and a University of Texas poll from June found Abbott ahead by 6 percent.
When O'Rourke ran against far-right Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas' 2018 U.S. Senate race, he narrowly lost — and Democratic strategists saw that election as an indication that while statewide races are still an uphill battle for Democrats in Texas, they aren't a lost cause. In 2020, President Joe Biden lost Texas to Donald Trump by about 6 percent — compared to the 16 percent margin that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had enjoyed in Texas in 2012.
Watch the townhall video below or at this link.