The proverbial “ripple effect” of Democrat presidential hopeful Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s threat to “take your AR15, your AK47” during the debate turned into something of a tidal wave at an Arizona gun store that offered “Beto Specials” on specific models of the popular semi-auto rifle, and that’s not all.
The former congressman-turned-candidate has also displayed his use of a vulgarity in an argument over—what else?—gun control with fellow candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the aftermath of the debate, from which political fallout is still raining down on Democrats.
The Arizona gun shop is Alpha Dog Firearms in Tempe, which gained some notoriety at Ammoland News last month for hosting an Apex Tactical event at the store.
According to the CarlHigbie.com website, the demand for “Beto Specials” was so heavy the store sold out. The guns were priced at under $350. A conversation on Facebook elicited more than 4,800 comments.
According to Fox News, Beto and Buttigieg tangled over gun control via Twitter. Buttigieg, who seemed to be practicing moderation, said in a tweet, “When even this president and even [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell are at least are pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hand. Let’s make the most of it and get these things done.”
But O’Rourke responded, tweeting, “Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms’? That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it.”
And he subsequently tweeted, “When candidates say, ‘At least Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are pretending to be interested,’ sh–, that is not enough. Neither is poll-testing your message. Gun violence is a life or death issue—and we have to represent the bold ideas of people all over the country.”
Over the weekend, Buttigieg appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where he concurred that O’Rourke’s remarks about confiscating semi-auto modern sporting rifles could haunt Democrats for years. That was the analysis of Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).
Whether the comment will haunt Democrats may not be as significant as O’Rourke’s impact on gun sales at a time when his party is pushing more gun control laws. But as noted recently by Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Democrats “just don’t get it.”
He was talking about a spike in the number of background checks reported during August by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The raw figure for all initiated NICS checks last month was 2,366,824, according to the FBI. That number does not reflect the number of firearms sold, but it does suggest a higher-than-last-year amount of activity, and actually set a new record for the month of August in terms of NICS checks initiated.
Gottlieb noted at the time that Democrats, pushing gun control proposals in reaction to shootings in California, Ohio and Texas, accomplished nothing other than to drive gun sales up.
“This happens every time they introduce or pass new restrictions,” he said. “They just don’t get it.”
What everyone does seem to understand is that O’Rourke’s extremism has ignited a firestorm that has changed, at least temporarily, the complexion of the gun control debate.
The discussion continually mentions “buyback” of so-called “assault rifles,” but rights activists are quick to argue the government cannot buy back something it never owned. Gun owners didn’t purchase their modern sporting rifles from the government, and by repeatedly using the term, the media erroneously creates the impression they did, or at least that the government has some claim to those firearms, which it does not.
What is being discussed is what activists call “compensated confiscation,” the use of public money to make it appear that forced surrender of legally-owned firearms is part of a legal transaction.
Under O’Rourke’s scenario, this is not a voluntary surrender of guns for cash. It would be mandatory, and refusal to cooperate would be a crime.
Some in the firearms community have been looking at this scenario and observed this is how revolutions start.