Buttigieg spars with O'Rourke on guns: 'I don't need lessons from you on courage'

Former Rep. Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats’ virtual convention: report O’Rourke on Texas reopening: ‘Dangerous, dumb and weak’ Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (D-Texas) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE continued their recent clash over the merits of a mandatory gun buyback program during Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate. 

O’Rourke backs a plan for a mandatory buyback for assault weapons, while Buttigieg has been hesitant to support such a proposal.

The disagreement has been a source of clashes between the two Democratic contenders.

“[Let’s] not be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups. Let’s do what’s right when we have time to do what’s right,” O’Rourke said during the debate.  

“The problem isn’t the polls. The problem is the policy,” Buttigieg responded. “And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”

Buttigieg added that “everyone on this stage” is “determined to get something done” and said the “problem” is not other Democrats but rather the National Rifle Association and its “enablers in Congress.” 

O’Rourke said Buttigieg’s response is a “mischaracterization” and said plans for an assault ban and gun buyback program are not mutually exclusive. 


“If the logic begins with those weapons being too dangerous to sell, then it must continue by acknowledging … they are also too dangerous to own, O’Rourke said. 

“Let’s decide what we are going to believe in … what we are going to achieve,” he added. 

Buttigieg also pushed back on O’Rourke, saying the Texas Democrat “made it clear you don’t know how” to enforce a mandatory buyback.

O’Rourke said the “expectation” is that Americans “will follow the law.” 

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