In a new NPR series called "Off the Script," 55-year-old social students and civics teacher Ruben Sandoval, who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, asked Beto O'Rourke how he would circumvent the Supreme Court to achieve his mandatory buyback of AR-15s. Specifically, Sandoval referenced two landmark cases that protect the Second Amendment and an American's right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
"As you know, one of the courses that I teach, I teach Texas government and also state and local government bath at Coronado and EPCC [El Paso Community College]. So we kind of discuss these issues as far as the Second Amendment and the limits on the Second Amendment. And I remember what you said on the stage as far as the buyback program, the mandatory buyback. The question I have is: How would you get around the Supreme Court rulings?" Sandoval asked.
"I mean, you've got the D.C. v. Heller, which began to federalize or actually applied it to D.C., the Second Amendment, and then you have the McDonald v. Chicago, which basically said the Second Amendment is incorporated to all States," Sandoval explained. "And so it would seem as though the courts would probably rule against something banning the AK-47, the AR-15s. And a mandatory buyback program would seem to be deemed unconstitutional, and as late as 2016, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals also included assault rifles to be part of the arms that are protected by the Second Amendment. So how would you be able to get around that?"
Naturally, Beto ignored the question and instead focused on the emotional appeal aspect of gun control.
"Is the question 'should we not pursue public policy or legislation for fear of the current composition of the courts?' My answer to that is 'no.' Do the right thing while you have time to do the right thing," O'Rourke replied. "And I think every American understands the distinction between a hunting rifle or a shotgun or a handgun that you have in your home for self-defense and something that was designed and is devastatingly effective at doing it to kill people on a battlefield, that is what an AR-15 and AK-47 is."
For some reason, O'Rourke is under the impression that the majority of Americans – and Texans in particular – are in favor of "mandatory buybacks" of AR-15s.
"As we now know, the majority of America supports this proposal. A plurality of Texans, in what is thought to be a very red and certainly a very proud gun-owning state, support this proposal as well, so I know that this is the right thing to do. I know America supports this," he said. "You have a very good question about what is its fate when it is challenged in the courts of law. We don't know, but fear of that uncertainty shouldn't prevent us from doing the right thing for all those Americans whose lives we want to save in a country that loses 40,000 people a year to gun violence. No other country comes close."