Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) criticized the extreme gun confiscation stance taken by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Robert "Beto" O'Rourke on Tuesday, saying the former congressman won't taking any of his guns away.
During the third Democratic presidential debate last week, O'Rourke kicked off a firestorm of Second Amendment controversy when he said "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," when asked about his position on mandatory gun buybacks — i.e. confiscation with compensation.
"Beto's one human being. He gave his own opinion, OK?" Manchin said Wednesday, according to Wall Street Journal congressional reporter Lindsay Wise. "I think it was very harmful to make it look like all the Democrats.
"I can tell you one thing," the senator added, [ORourke's] not taking my guns away from me. You tell Beto that OK?"
Dem Sen. @JoeManchinWV on Beto pledge to confiscate AR15s: "Beto's one human being. He gave his own opinion, OK? I… https://t.co/82yiHsTvIx— Lindsay Wise (@Lindsay Wise)1568828591.0
Shortly after O'Rourke made the brazen statement, his campaign started promoting T-shirts with the phrase on it.
The former Texas congressman's pledge also earned criticism from another Senate Democrat — Chris Coons of Maryland — who warned that it would backfire on gun control proponents.
"I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying that Democrats are coming for your guns," Coons said on Friday.
One Arizona gun store even reacted to the claim by offering "Beto specials" that emptied their inventory of AR-15s and AK-47s in a matter of hours. Palmetto State Armory is now offering a special edition "No Beto" AR-15 lower receiver.
O'Rourke has said that he's talked to Texans who agree with him on guns since making the statement, which was greeted with understandable skepticism by Texans on social media.
Voters haven't appeared to respond to O'Rourke's confiscation pledge with much enthusiasm, either; a Morning Consult poll after the debate showed little change in his support numbers, which were at 4 percent.