The Texas state representative who threatened presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke with his assault rifle Thursday is an anti-abortion lawmaker who says he "supports the value of life" and was honored as a "pro-life hero" in 2017 by the state's largest anti-abortion group.
After O'Rourke said on the Democratic debate stage that he'd not only ban all assault weapons but also institute mandatory buybacks, Texas state representative Briscoe Cain tweeted "my AR is ready for you." O'Rourke said it was a death threat and Twitter removed the post for violating its rules about threats of violence on the platform. An O’Rourke spokesperson told The Washington Post that the campaign reported the tweet to the FBI.
Briscoe's biography on the Texas house site says he is "a Conservative Republican who supports limited government, less regulation, increased transparency, the value of life, and traditional family values."
The political action committee for Texas Right to Life endorsed Cain in February 2016 and again in 2018 both for the primary and general election, and called him a "pro-life hero" in 2017. After winning his first term, in February 2017 Cain introduced a "heartbeat" bill, or a ban on abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected, which can occur before many people know they're pregnant. Cain said in a statement about the bill, HB 1500, that "As State Representative, I am committed to making Texas the safest place in America for the unborn child."
Cain made Texas Monthly’s list of the 10 worst legislators in the state in 2017. The magazine typically doesn't include freshman lawmakers on the list because they're still learning the ropes, "but he left us little choice." They went on to cite Cain’s “uninformed and belligerent performance.”
Cain is no stranger to controversy: In June 2018, he was kicked out of the state Democratic convention after he appeared to bring a gun to the event. Earlier this week he suggested that the entire city of Austin, Texas, be abolished after the city council voted to fund abortion access, but not the procedure itself.
Neither Cain nor Texas Right to Life responded to VICE's requests for comment by publication time.
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