Beto O’Rourke was uniquely outspoken in his calls for gun control during Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Houston. The former Texas congressman, whose hometown of El Paso recently was the victim of a mass shooting at a Walmart, was asked if he’d take away assault-style weapons that are often used in mass shootings. “Hell yes,” O’Rourke responded. “We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore.”
It seemed inevitable that O’Rourke’s call to ban ownership of military-style weapons would rile up the guns=distilled liberty true believers online, but it was, perhaps predictably, an elected Republican official—from the state of Texas no less—who led the way over the cliff. Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted a not-so-thinly veiled threat at the presidential contender, tweeting, “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” calling O’Rourke, whose nickname is Beto, by his first and middle names.
This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else. pic.twitter.com/jsiZmwjMDs
The O’Rourke campaign said it reported the 34-year-old state representative’s tweet to the FBI. Twitter took down the tweet, saying it had violated its terms of service. “It violates our rules for threats of violence,” a company spokesperson said late Thursday night. “You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”
Cain, however, was unrepentant, tweeting “You’re a child Robert Francis.”
An influential Benicia resident (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote to me on May 22, highly concerned over our Rep. Mike Thompson’s moderate statements on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force page on his website. Her email subject line was “Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence.” She wrote:
Rep. Mike Thompson, District 5, has been chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the US House of Representative for several years. Here is his disturbing current statement on the Task Force site: note: there are links on the site about his gun prevention plans. From his website…
“As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect a law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. As a dad and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, streets and communities safe. We can do both, but Congress will need to step up.
After being named chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I held a series of open town halls in our district that examined some of the actions that Congress could take. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA members and gun control advocates. Many feared that their Second Amendment rights would come under attack when my task force made its recommendations to Congress. Others wanted to cast those rights aside.
I believe both views are too extreme. I will never give up my guns and I will never ask law-abiding Americans without a history of dangerous mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, the Constitution does not allow it. In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court affirmed once and for all that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms.
However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech but doesn’t allow you to incite violence, the Second Amendment has restrictions too. As conservative justice Anthony Scalia outlined, Heller does not prohibit laws forbidding firearms in places such as schools, nor does it restrict laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.
This ruling provides people on both sides of the issue with an opportunity to work within the confines of the Second Amendment and pass legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence.”
I wrote to Thompson’s staff, sharing our concern about the Gun Violence Prevention page on his website, and suggesting they update the page to show Mike’s evolving views on this subject. “I hope you will pass this on to Mike and make an effort to update the website, calling for new and more stringent controls on guns, with special attention to military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons.”
I heard back that same day with a promise to pass our concern on to Mike’s communications director in Washington D.C., Alex Macfarlane.
As of today, there have been no updates on Mike’s Gun Violence Prevention page. Similarly, I can find no mention of assault weapons or automatic / semi-automatic weapons on Thompson’s Facebook page. I hope to hear from his office about changes, and will report here with updates.
Contact Rep. Mike Thompson – ask him what is his position on banning military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons:
Judge: Assault weapons ban doesn’t violate 2nd Amendment
By Alanna Durkin Richer | AP April 6 at 4:05 PM
BOSTON — Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment, a federal judge said in a ruling Friday upholding Massachusetts’ ban on the weapons.
U.S. District Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 20-year-old ban, saying assault weapons are military firearms that fall beyond the reach of the constitutional right to “bear arms.”
Regulation of the weapons is a matter of policy, not for the courts, he said.
“Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens,” Young said. “These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.”
State Attorney General Maura Healey said the ruling “vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war.”
“Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools,” Healey, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Families across the country should take heart in this victory.”