SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Across the country, with Springfield being no exception, gun owners are reacting to the words of Beto O’Rourke.
O’Rourke, hardly a frontrunner in the Democratic primary race, said this on Thursday at a debate in Houston:
David Muir, ABC Debate Commentator: “Are you proposing taking away their guns and how would this work?”
O’Rourke: “I am if it’s a weapon designed to kill people on a battlefield. If the high-impact, high-velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield, and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers. When we see that being used against children…And in Odesa, I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl that was shot by an AR-15 and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15. In Odesa, in Midland, there weren’t enough ambulances to get to them in time. 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.”
Now, the former Texas Congressman’s impassioned answer is inciting rebuttals from gun owners like Zach Terhark, owner of Springfield’s Eagle Armory, and Nick Newman, owner of Springfield’s Cherokee Firearms.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s no doing very well with his campaign right now,” Terhark told Ozarks First the day after O’Rourke’s big debate moment. “Their true goal is to take away guns. So I think maybe it’s a little refreshing that he actually said it this time.”
O’Rourke would go on to say he’s spoken with gun owners across the country who support the ban on AR-type weapons.
“I doubt there are many of our customers that would give him that same answer,” Newman said. “I’m thinking about inventory and how many I have in inventory and how quickly I’m going to run through that if he becomes a frontrunner in the polls.”
For Terhark, O’Rourke’s interest in the weapon’s original purpose is misplaced.
“It’s just a well-made, well-designed rifle,” he said, examining the AR-15 in his hands. “And it doesn’t matter what it’s for, it’s my right to have it.”
Meanwhile, Newman sees the gun’s ‘killing machine’ label as misinformed.
“Operationally, these two guns work exactly the same way,” he explained, laying an AR-15 next to a Ruger 10/22, a much milder looking gun.
Both gun shop owners say it’s a common AR stereotype.
“The people that talk about controlling guns the most are the people that are the least educated about it,” Terhark said. “The people that buy them are just good people who are hobby shooters.”
And while both agree, an O’Rourke-style ban would be bad for business, neither feel they’ll have anything to worry about come 2020.
“Not this time,” Terhark said. “Down the road maybe. No not him. He doesn’t worry me too much.”
“When my grandpa walked into a hardware store, he could buy dynamite” Newman added. “Today that sounds crazy. Didn’t happen overnight. So maybe in a hundred years… yeah.”
Beto O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas experienced a mass shooting in August. Twenty-two people were shot and killed at a Walmart in the Texas-Mexico border town. CBS reports the alleged shooter carried an assault weapon.