WASHINGTON -- Former Texas Rep. and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is pushing back against Meghan McCain's recent assertion that implementing a mandatory buyback policy for assault weapons -- which O'Rourke has proposed -- would lead to violence.
O'Rourke told the Daily Beast in an interview published Thursday that "I think the response should be, ‘We’re doing nothing now and we’re seeing people slaughtered in their schools, at work, at a Walmart, in a synagogue, in a church, at a concert,'" adding "We should be worried about that kind of violence right now.”
Earlier this week, McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and an outspoken conservative in her own right commented on "The View" that the “AR-15 is by far the most popular gun in America, by far. I was just in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, if you're talking about taking people’s guns from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence.”
“I just I think that kind of language and rhetoric is not helpful,” O'Rourke said in response, according to the Daily Beast. “It becomes self-fulfilling; you have people on TV, who are almost giving you permission to be violent and saying ‘you know this is this is going to happen.’”
O’Rourke used to represent El Paso, Texas, where a shooting at a local Walmart left 22 people dead. He asserted that McCain’s comments dismiss the problems surrounding gun violence.
He continued, “When someone says 'if you do this, then this will happen,' almost as though that’s a natural response or maybe even something that should happen or deserves to happen."
"When I think the response should be: ‘We’re doing nothing now and we’re seeing people slaughtered in their schools, at work, at a Walmart, in a synagogue, in a church, at a concert. There is violence right now and it is horrifying and it is terrifying and it is terrorizing.’....We should be worried about that kind of violence right now.”
Meghan McCain responded to O'Rourke's comments in a tweet, saying: "Beto is the only man in all of Texas who would revise ‘Come and Take It’ to ‘Please, Come and Take It.’”
The original phrase has come to represent defiance and pride to Texans dating back nearly 200 years. As the Houston Chronicle reported, the saying symbolizes "defiance against someone or something looking to grind you down or deprive you of a right or privilege."
O’Rourke and McCain have clashed before when he was a guest on “The View” and stood by comparing a controversial rally in North Carolina put on by President Donald Trump's re-election campaign to a "Nuremberg rally." in Nazi Germany.
"You’re talking about Trump supporters, comparing them to Nazis in Nuremberg, that sounds extreme to me as well," McCain told O'Rourke at the time. "When Democrats come on here and wax poetic about extremism—I’m not saying Trump isn’t doing it, but you’re calling everybody who was in that North Carolina rally a Nazi."
"From my standpoint, it seems like the left is pretty extreme as well," she added.
“We all have accountability for our actions and everyone who shouted to send them back is responsible for that as well," he said to cheers from the studio audience on "The View" in July
He later continued, “I don't care who you voted for last time. I don’t care if you’re a Trump supporter or a Republican. You’re an American first before you are anything else and I call you to this country’s greatness.”
He said, "To protect our kids, our families, our fellow Americans in public places. At a Walmart in El Paso where 22 were killed. In Sutherland Springs, in a Church. One or two a day all over this country. A hundred killed daily in the United States of America. We’re averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close."
"So yes, this is f***** up," the former Texas congressman concluded.
The comments echoed remarks he'd made at an event the night before.
We don't know how many have been killed. We don't know the motivation. But here's what we do know: This is fucked up. pic.twitter.com/NRvyPfUjiM— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 1, 2019
"Beto for America" is printed at the bottom of the t-shirt.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, Rebecca Morin
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Beto O'Rourke takes on Meghan McCain over gun rights, gun control