"Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."
That one sentence uttered by presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke during last week's Democratic primary debate has sent others in his party scrambling to distance themselves from the extreme gun control policy — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
"I don't know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O'Rourke, but it's no excuse not to go forward," Schumer said Wednesday.
By "go forward" Schumer means that despite the damage O'Rourke may have done to bipartisan negotiations on gun reform, discussions between the parties must continue. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn agreed.
"Unfortunately, I think he set back the debate a lot — maybe not just years, but decades," Cornyn said, according to the Times Union. "We're going to try to not be distracted by that."
President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed a similar message on Twitter, writing that despite "dummy Beto's" comments making it "much harder to make a deal," he will "continue forward."
Schumer is either woefully ignorant of what's going on in his Senate caucus, or he is being willfully dishonest about Democrats' stance on guns. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has supported mandatory buybacks as a "good idea," and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) supported criminal penalties for people who don't comply with a proposed assault weapons ban.
O'Rourke, since mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in early August, has pivoted his underperforming campaign to focus primarily on gun control — oddly following in the steps of one of the few Democratic candidates who has done more poorly than O'Rourke: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). Swalwell dropped out of the race after failing to qualify for the second debate.
The former Texas congressman's campaign shift has earned him an increase in national media headlines, but not an increase in national polling numbers. The man once considered a rising star in the mold of former President Barack Obama has been flatlining at 1 to 3 percent in most polls for some time now, and is heading to a potentially career-crippling second consecutive failure in a major election.
Although Democrats are racing to disavow O'Rourke's blunt commitment to mandatory gun buybacks, his rhetoric is not actually that different on the issue than that of his Democratic counterparts. Rather than being guilty of having gone too far in his policy proposal, O'Rourke is perhaps only guilty of saying the quiet part of the Democratic Party's ultimate goal out loud.