Beto O'Rourke sparked a big reaction on Twitter this weekend when a clip showing him talking about AR-15s went viral.
In what appears to be an attempt to thread a needle that no one was holding, Beto O'Rourke, in the clip shared by The Hill on Twitter, said, "If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely."
He then added, "I just don't think that we need to sell anymore weapons of war into this public."
That overtly absurd contradiction did not escape the notice of others on social media and the scorn piled up.
Perhaps the best response was from user Just Karl, who just goes by Karl.
it takes a special man to alienate both sides of the gun debate in two sentences. https://t.co/rRUCMUJXx6— Just Karl (@Just Karl) 1552788398.0
Alienating both sides is exactly what O'Rourke does here. He's calling the AR-15 a dangerous weapon of war that no one should be legally permitted to purchase, and at the same time saying to go ahead and keep the ones you own because he's sure you can use them responsibly and safely and not for war at all.
Nevertheless, judging by a lot of the replies and retweets, a great number of people only noticed the part that made them angry and ignored the other part.
Some at his paean to gun control:
Legislation by name calling: “weapons of war” “assault weapons” https://t.co/mAAO6Et83M— Randy Barnett (@Randy Barnett) 1552793285.0
Others at his trust in gun owners:
Use it “responsibly”? It is designed to kill a lot of things really fast, what part of that is “responsible”? https://t.co/U58wMhQ8mH— Farron Cousins (@Farron Cousins) 1552782470.0
There are hundreds of replies, but it isn't actually the first time O'Rourke has gone this route. He made nearly identical comments on a Texas radio station last year during his failed Senate run, which he handily lost to incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Beto O'Rourke: If You Purchased an AR-15, Keep It www.youtube.com
"If you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly," O'Rourke said. "We have this proud rich tradition [in Texas] of hunting, of owning guns for self-defense, for sport, for collection as you may own that AR-15 for, just because it is fun to shoot."
That's a lot of strange uses for a deadly "weapon of war" that no one should be allowed to sell or purchase.
It's probably not going to play great for him in the Democriatic presidential primary.