Beto O’Rourke’s Outburst in the Gun Control Discussion is Precisely What Democrats Need

Beto O’Rourke confronts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Uvalde press conference.

Beto O’Rourke is not a presidential candidate for 2024. But he should be. Beto O’Rourke has shown that Democrats have the spine they need to stand up to the NRA, and I’m so glad he did. The former Texas congressman’s outburst at Governor Greg Abbott’s news conference Wednesday showed that Democrats need to get their act together and put up a real candidate for president in 2024. While O’Rourke’s approach might have shocked many, it was the type of response that was necessary. Democrats too often go easy on Republican leaders in fear they will offend them because they need their help at some point down the line.

We can’t keep letting these tragedies happen without doing anything about them. I believe we shouldn’t even sell guns in the United States. Guns will just end up punishing us and hurting us. Guns are like drugs: we need to be able to isolate them from society.

O’Rourke caused a dramatic scene Wednesday when he angrily confronted Gov. Greg Abbott at his the governor’s news conference about the school shooting, yelling, “This is on you.”

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said. “You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”

O’Rourke was eventually escorted out of the room. On his way out, he turned back to address Abbott again.

“This is on you until you choose to do something different,” O’Rourke said. “This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.”

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Texas governor, interrupted Gov. Greg Abbott’s press conference on Wednesday, blaming him for the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Abbott was holding a press conference in support of the Uvalde victims’ families when O’Rourke walked in and confronted Abbott. He accused Abbott, who was sitting nearby, of refusing to take action on gun violence because he wants to keep his job as governor instead of passing laws that will keep people safe from gun violence. Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz have been in the news insisting that mental illness, violent video games, and lack of prayer are turning children into mass murderers. (At least these guys are consistent.) However, Abbott signed a bill into law in 2019 allowing Texans with concealed handgun licenses or military members with concealed carry permits to openly carry firearms in public. As long as the firearm is holstered and visible, licensed handgun owners can openly carry their firearms in public places. In addition, private businesses cannot display signs prohibiting handguns at their entrances.

It was an amazing moment in politics — and one that could change everything if it’s seen as a preview of what might happen if Democrats run a candidate who refuses to play nice with Republicans while they try to pass whatever legislation they can get through Congress before voters kick them out again in 2022.

Beto O’Rourke doesn’t hold back on what he thinks about certain issues, even if it means getting into a heated confrontation with his opponent. I am glad to see someone who isn’t afraid of confrontation and can stand up for what he believes in even if it means risking his political career by doing so. The Democratic Party has been criticized for not being aggressive enough in its opposition to MAGA Republicans, but O’Rourke showed that he won’t be afraid to stand up for his beliefs even when it means getting into a heated argument with a fellow politician. When you’re out of your depth, sometimes it’s best to just admit it. O’Rourke was in over his head, but he did what any good politician does: he stood up for himself.

He was angry — and rightfully so. He wasn’t just angry because there had been another school shooting — but because nothing had changed since the last one, and nothing will change unless we make it happen. And he wasn’t going to hold back those feelings because someone told him that was rude or impolite or unprofessional. The Texas Republican Party is trying to make this about O’Rourke’s “temper” but Beto has a clear point: the governor has neglected to do anything about school shootings, and that makes this subjectively his fault.

For years now, the debate over gun control has been a polarized stalemate. The federal government can’t take legislative action on guns, because Republicans are super motivated by the NRA’s influence. It’s even trickier in Texas, where gun rights are so revered that Abbott earlier this year vetoed a bill that would have allowed open-carry at public universities. Democrats are vocal but largely powerless on the issue, too — and recent mass shootings seem to have had little, if any impact on gun control advocates.

It is clear that O’Rourke believes pretty strongly in this issue. And that he has chosen a side. While some may find his passion to be abrasive, I find it to be refreshing. So often these days political discussions become diluted with an overwhelming amount of facts and figures. O’Rourke’s passion for the topic is a big step toward accomplishing that goal. There’s little sense in crafting legislation that sticks so close to the format of what hasn’t worked before.

At this point, they are the only real voice of the left and they need to stand up for what they believe in. If they don’t do this, Republicans will keep crushing them out of sheer force.

You don’t have to like Beto O’Rourke, but you should respect him for standing up for what he believes in and letting us know where he stands. O’Rourke is brave enough to confront the enemy, the gun issue, the one that Republicans fear the most.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Samantha Jackson

community organizer / intersectional feminist / Take That & NKOTB fan / fashion enthusiast