Beto O’Rourke promised during Thursday night’s debate to confiscate assault rifles, arguing that they are too dangerous for Americans to own. In response, a Texas Republican lawmaker threatened to kill him with one.
Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican serving in the Texas House of Representatives, reacted to O’Rourke’s promise of a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons during Thursday’s Democratic debate by tweeting: “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis.”
O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, wasn’t having it. He called out Cain for threatening him — and vividly illustrating his point about the need for gun control.
“This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn't own an AR-15 — and neither should anyone else,” tweeted O’Rourke. Within hours, Twitter removed Cain’s post for violating its rules about making threats of violence on the platform.
Facing a massive online backlash to his tweet, Cain, a 34-year-old attorney who represents the state’s House District 128, east of Houston, continued to swipe at his critics.
“You’re a child Robert Francis,” he shot back, again using O’Rourke’s legal name, after the presidential candidate singled out his threat. To a Twitter user who said he’d screenshotted the threat to give the FBI, Cain replied: “Cool bro.”
“I get ratioed in the reg,” he told one user who noted he was getting “ratioed into oblivion,” before suggesting he was merely telling O’Rourke: “Come and take it!”
That argument didn’t wash with critics like Democratic state Rep. Mary González of Clint, who condemned Cain’s remarks in the wake of recent massacres in the state. On Aug. 3, a suspected white supremacist targeting Hispanic people killed 22 people with an AK-47 at a Walmart in O'Rourke's hometown, El Paso. On Aug. 31, another gunman with an AR-style gun killed seven on a shooting spree between the cities of Odessa and Midland in west Texas.
“In case you forgot, people were just killed in El Paso,” González wrote. “People were murdered. The language you are using and the way you are using it is dangerous.”
O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, gave a fiery defence of his proposal for an Australian-style mandatory buyback of assault weapons during Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Houston, Texas.
Asked by moderator David Muir if he planned to take away people’s guns, O’Rourke replied: “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.”
It’s not the first time Cain has made headlines for a provocative defence of gun rights. In 2018, he was forced to leave a state Democratic convention in Fort Worth, after he appeared to bring a gun to the event in an attempted prank on his political opponents.
Cover: Democratic presidential candidate former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke answers a question Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)