President Donald Trump said Wednesday it has become “much harder” to reach a deal with Democrats on gun legislation, blaming an emphatic call by former congressman Beto O’Rourke for a mandatory buyback program for assault-style weapons, The Washington Post reported.
O’Rourke created one of the most memorable moments of last week’s Democratic presidential debate in Houston when he spoke passionately about a need for gun control in the wake of recent mass shootings. “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said, referring to his support for mandatory buybacks of war weapons.
“Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away,” Trump said on Twitter, adding: “Will continue forward!”
His tweet comes as Congress waits for Trump to announce what gun-related proposals he would support following a spate of mass shootings, including back-to-back massacres last month in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Congress remains “in a holding pattern” while awaiting guidance from the White House. “I’m still waiting for guidance from the White House about what [Trump] is comfortable signing . . . and hopefully making some progress,” McConnell said.
Following last week’s debate, O’Rourke said that his buyback plan would be “not voluntary.”
Republicans seized on O’Rourke’s comments, using them to broadly paint Democrats as overly eager to confiscate firearms, while some Democrats suggested the remarks were not helpful in persuading Republicans to embrace more modest changes, such as expanding background checks for gun purchasers, The Washington Post reports.
O’Rourke responded to Trump on Twitter later Wednesday morning, accusing the President of cowardice. “To be clear: We will buy back every single assault weapon,” he wrote. “We’ll also license every gun & do a background check on every buyer. That’s what the American people want — and deserve. The only thing stopping us from ending this epidemic is you & your cowardice. Do the right thing.”
O’Rourke also reacted on Twitter to a report that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer had said other Democrats do not agree with O’Rourke on a mandatory buyback program.