Is perennial political candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke—this time running to replace Greg Abbott as governor of Texas—biting his tongue or merely biding his time before talking about gun control in a state where guns are common and more than a million residents are licensed to carry?
According to KEYE (CBS Austin), O’Rourke has been focusing on the Texas power grid failures rather than Lone Star firepower.
As noted by Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on something other than guns keeps the subject out of the spotlight. The KEYE story quoted Blank observing, “Because of the comments O’Rourke has made about guns previously, any comment he makes about guns currently will automatically be used against him in, yet, another long line of examples the Abbott campaign will put out showing that O’Rourke is out of touch with Texas. Whether or not this is true is irrelevant, but this is something I think O’Rourke knows and would like to focus on issues he and his Democrats up and down the ticket have more likelihood of success.”
During a Democratic presidential primary debate in Houston, when O’Rourke was part of a crowded field lining up to challenge then-President Donald Trump, he famously blurted—in what now seems like a carefully rehearsed display of emotional outrage—“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
He may have been cheered by the studio audience, but his presidential aspirations quickly crashed.
O’Rourke was a member of Congress when he ran against Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and lost, though it was a close race. Two years later, he ran for president and never made it past the primary phase.
Now, he is running for another public office, this time for the Texas governorship, suggesting he is looking around for another public paycheck.
El Paso is O’Rourke’s hometown, and the site of one of Texas’ worst mass shootings in 2019 at a Wal-Mart in that border city.
Eventually, O’Rourke will have to address his position on gun ownership to an electorate that has already demonstrated its fondness for the Second Amendment. When that happens, his Houston outburst will come back to haunt him.
Right now, the Democrat campaigner appears to be biting his tongue and refraining from discussing firearms, even in the wake of the high school shooting in Michigan, and two weeks ago, the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who fatally shot two men and wounded a third one night in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wis.
Perhaps he is waiting for the right moment.