Senator Chris Coons, like most Democrats, desperately wants to make guns and gun control a primary issue in the upcoming campaign. But unlike many Democrats, he’s something of a realist. He has a general idea of what might be acceptable to the voting public as far as registrations and background checks, “red flags” and limits on magazines. But he knows where to draw a political line.
Sen. Chris Coons said while he appreciates former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s passion on the issue of guns, it remains to be seen if O’Rourke did more harm than good when he said he was going to confiscate AR-15s during Thursday’s Democratic primary debate.
Coons told CNN on Friday he does not support mandatory confiscation of AR-15s.
“And I, frankly, think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying, ‘Democrats are coming for your guns,'” Coons said of O’Rourke’s comment.
“I’m a gun owner. My sons and I have gone skeet shooting and hunting and, frankly, I don’t think having our presidential candidates, like Congressman O’Rourke did, say that we’re going to try and take people’s guns against their will is a wise either policy or political move” he added.
Coons knows that many a Democratic candidate has crashed and burned over the years by overreaching in gun control. And he knows that O’Rourke’s confiscation threats are a gift to Republicans that will keep on giving for years to come.
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow asked the Delaware Democrat if O’Rourke hurt the party with his call to action.
“We’ll have to see. I respect his passion. Anyone who has had to sit with the parents of victims of gun violence, parents who have lost their children, as I have, after the Sandy Hook shooting, after the Tucson shooting, parents … to sit with a parent who has lost a child and have no answer about how we’re going to make the country safer is a very hard experience. So I respect what is motivating Congressman O’Rourke, but I don’t think as a policy position that’s going to stand muster,” Coons replied.
Even many voters who don’t like automatic weapons would oppose a government-sponsored gun grab. Reasonable Democrats (or political realists) know this. They also know that if O’Rourke and his ilk get their way, the government will eventually get around to confiscating most other guns simply because they can.
O’Rourke’s “Hell yes” statement exposes the fiction of a “gun buyback” program and reveals it for what it is: an assault on the individual liberty of law abiding Americans. The candidate is likely to be gone from the race before the first Iowa snowfall, but his threat will live on and be repeated whenever a Democrat gets in front of an audience and swears they’re not going after your guns.
Coons — and other Democrats — know that there will be an ongoing political price to be paid for that. And that’s music to the GOP’s ears.