Beto O’Rourke isn’t terribly good at selling himself as a viable candidate for president, at least if the polls are any indication.
The former Texas congressman is stuck at 2.5 percent among Democratic hopefuls in the RealClearPolitics polling average, 0.8 points behind Andrew “Publishers Clearing House” Yang. That’s not exactly fantastic for a guy who started out among the frontrunners and now can only console himself with the fact that Cory Booker isn’t beating him.
So, no, he can’t sell himself effectively. But he’s pretty darn good at selling AR-15s — so much so that the National Rifle Association has named him “AR-15 Salesman of the Month.”
I’m guessing Beto probably didn’t want the award.
As you may recall from those halcyon days of a little over two weeks ago, before we all became profoundly engrossed with one of the president’s phone calls, Beto had promised us all that on the off chance he took the White House, he’d also be taking a lot of our rifles as part of the deal.
In response to a question about gun seizure during the last Democrat debate, O’Rourke said he would force Americans to sell their guns back to the government “if it’s a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield.”
“If the high-impact, high-velocity round when it hits your body shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that,” he said, “so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers.
“When we see that being used against children. … Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
In passionate answer on gun violence, Beto O’Rourke says, “When we see that being used against children…Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”https://t.co/INdRXlIwFs #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/XqcbTWvR0m
— ABC News (@ABC) September 13, 2019
O’Rourke was busy selling merch with his new favorite slogan on it — a slogan that was absolutely, positively, 100 percent delivered off the cuff and in no way planned or rehearsed because it would look good on the front of a T-shirt:
Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019
Yeah, but can you get it on a mug?
While O’Rourke was selling shirts, he was also selling guns. Alpha Dog Firearms of Tempe, Arizona, ran a “Beto Special” on AR-15s and quickly ran out of stock.
“I said, ‘Maybe I’ll sell 20 rifles and see what happens,'” Alpha Dog owner Matt Boggs said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“We’re a really small store, so just the attention we’ve gotten from this whole thing and the positive response has been amazing,” Bogg said.
And so the NRA decided an award was in order:
Possibly even of the year… pic.twitter.com/ESnA4Qur93
— NRA (@NRA) September 19, 2019
Well, O’Rourke certainly has sold enough of them in September — and, as long as he remains in the race, he’s going to keep on moving them.
Then again, even if Beto becomes president, who knows if, hell yes, he’s really going to take your AR-15?
Beto didn’t want to take any guns — up to and including rifles — during his Senate run back in 2018.
“If you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly,” he told a radio host. “If you own a gun, keep that gun. Nobody wants to take it away from you — at least I don’t want to do that.”
It’s sort of like “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” only if your doctor was protected under a constitutional amendment.
Clearly, Beto wasn’t going to win in Texas if he came out for AR-15 seizure. Now, however, he realizes that gun control is a way to set himself apart from the rest of the Democrat field. If he were to win the Democratic nomination, he’d probably realize he has to win states where hunting is a way of life, and that could change again.
The constitutional amendment part poses another hurdle for Beto, one he doesn’t really seem to have grasped fully. During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said he didn’t anticipate having any problems getting the guns seized because he wouldn’t even have to contend with the Second Amendment.
“I’ll put it this way. This is something that we’re able to do through the Commerce Clause. And this is something that is not prevented from — wouldn’t prevent the United States from doing by the Second Amendment,” he said.
The Commerce Clause is part of the Constitution that gives the federal government broad powers to regulate interstate commerce or almost anything that could reasonably be seen as falling under that category.
A previous ban on certain rifles like the AR-15 passed legal muster in regards to the Commerce Clause and the Second Amendment, but that ban didn’t involve seizure, and the cases being cited had to do with transfers and possession of either illegally transferred or manufactured rifles.
In other cases, the Supreme Court has found that the Commerce Clause doesn’t give the government the legal authority to enact gun control measures.
Perhaps most importantly, all of that happened before District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 Supreme Court case that’s seen as the current legal precedent involving gun bans. In that decision, authored by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, it was held that guns in “common use” were protected under the Second Amendment.
And, hey — the longer O’Rourke stays in the race, the more common AR-15s and similar firearms are going to be.
Keep selling those guns, Beto.
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