Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke has been vocal about his desire to permanently confiscate AR-15 rifles and other similar semi-automatic firearms from Americans if he is elected president.
On Friday, while speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, the former Texas congressman seemingly backtracked on his position, which had become more radical in recent weeks.
O'Rourke was responding to a question from a high school student, who informed O'Rourke that rifles like the AR-15 are effective hunting tools. O'Rourke said it was the first time he had heard of AR-15s being used for hunting purposes — and then backtracked on mandatory confiscation.
"Perhaps a way to address a legitimate concern or need is to ensure that those who have or want to use an AR-15 are able to keep it at a hunting club or at a gun range so that there is some control and safeguards still placed on that firearm," O'Rourke said.
A student in Des Moines today told @BetoORourke that he hunts using an AR-15, arguing it's less painful for the ani… https://t.co/LBosm4bkCZ— Maura Barrett (@Maura Barrett) 1572029828.0
Gun control became the central issue of O'Rourke's ailing campaign after the El Paso massacre in August.
"Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," O'Rourke declared during the September Democratic debate.
Initially, O'Rourke did not elaborate on how he planned to enforce such a ban, stating his belief that Americans would generally comply with his firearm ban, despite Americans traditionally not complying with actions that curtail their Second Amendment freedoms.
However, O'Rourke has since admitted that all Americans who do not comply with mandatory confiscation would face "consequences in the criminal code."