Some of the Democratic presidential candidates are going after South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg for criticizing their proposals to have mandatory confiscation of AR-15s and similar types of rifles.
Their criticisms comes as the presidential race is heating up and it shows that while they are willing to not go after each other directly on some issues, they view gun control as a topic that can not be drawn out into an lengthy debate.
Their tweets were sent on Monday after Buttigieg was interviewed by Peter Hamby for Snapchat's "Good Luck America." Buttigieg said former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), who first called for the confiscation of AR-15s and AK-47s, "needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant."
Mayor Pete on Elizabeth Warren’s small donor strategy: “We're not going to beat Trump with pocket change”— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) October 14, 2019
Mayor Pete on his gun fight with Beto: “I get it. He needs to pick a fight in order to stay relevant"
And much more on today’s Good Luck America: https://t.co/10uxr1fqph pic.twitter.com/Xy1sChbOeX
"He can say whatever he wants, but guns kill 40,000 people each year. Those people deserve action. I’ll be fighting for them," O'Rourke tweeted.
Pete can belittle the grassroots; he can call buybacks a “shiny object.” He can say whatever he wants, but guns kill 40,000 people each year.— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 14, 2019
Those people deserve action. I’ll be fighting for them. https://t.co/yZwbyfSngr
O'Rourke has gone after Buttigieg on the issue before, such as during the gun control forum in Las Vegas.
"What Pete has been saying is that a mandatory buyback is 'the shiny object that is distracting us.' How in the world can you say that? To March For Our Lives. How can you say that to survivors of mass shootings across this country?" Beto told reporters after appearing on stage.
"So I was really offended by those comments and I think he represents a kind of politics that is focused on poll testing and focus group driving and triangulating and listening to consultants before you arrive at a position. I think our politics has to be about doing the right thing," he added.
When he was running for Senate in Texas in 2018, O'Rourke did not support confiscation as he told gun owners who have AR-15s they would be able to keep them. O'Rourke changed his stance after the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, where 22 people were killed.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said Buttigieg was doing the National Rifle Association's work by calling mandatory buybacks "confiscation."
Sen. Kamala Harris said just banning AR-15s is not a solution, but rather a "Band-Aid" for the problem.
Leaving more than 5 million assault weapons on the street isn't a ban, it's a Band-Aid. https://t.co/LuAbJAwOZh— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 14, 2019
Buttigieg has defended his stance as he sees a "golden" opportunity to push for universal background checks while the public supports it, instead of going after more radical proposals that Republicans can latch on to push back.
Buttigieg has said AR-15s should not be on the streets because they are "weapons of war," adding it is not misleading to label them as such because, "The point is not the small differences in firing mechanisms or certain capabilities. The point is that they're weapons with destructive power that there is simply no justification for them to be in civilian hands."
AR-15s are not issued to members of the U.S. military because the standard rifles are the M-16A4 and the M4. Those are capable of firing more than one round per trigger pull.