The Corner

Law & the Courts

Beto’s Bizarre Turn

Beto O’Rourke talks to the media at a detention facility in Homestead, Fla., June 27, 2019. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Quite what Beto O’Rourke thinks he is doing remains a mystery to me. By coming out in favor of gun confiscation — and by punctuating his ever-more-hysterical entreaties with studied profanity — he has all-but guaranteed that he will not be president of the United States; that he will not be chosen as the candidate for vice-president of the United States; that he will not be a senator from the state of Texas; that he will not be the governor of the State of Texas; and, in all likelihood, that, wherever he ends up, he will be kept far, far away from the levers of power during any future debate over gun control. And for what? For a policy that O’Rourke knows full well is not going to get anywhere — and that, for all practical purposes, would be pointless even if it did. Rarely has a candidate for political office shown better how vast is the gap between discernible political reality and the sort of self-indulgent speechifying that fans of The West Wing believe drives legislative change in America. Gun confiscation? Is he high?

Here, courtesy of Joe Atmonavage at, is the discernible political reality part of the equation:

When New Jersey’s ban on large-capacity gun magazines went into effect last December, it forced gun owners to make a decision.

Should they turn the magazines over to law enforcement? Should they modify them into compliance? Should they sell them to authorized owners or store them in another state?

Or simply ignore the law which banned magazines that have more than 10 rounds?

There are about one million gun owners in the state, which translates into a huge number of magazines.

Unsurprisingly, they chose the lattermost:

A New Jersey State Police spokesman said not a single large-capacity magazine has been turned in since the law went into effect nearly nine months ago.


As the state’s largest gun group challenges the constitutionality of the law, gun owners have had to get creative with how they abide by the law.

Some gun owners have buried their large-capacity magazines in their backyard or behind sheetrock in their garage, said Eric Rebels, a local gun rights activist and owner of GunSitters, a secure firearms storage system company.

Others are opting to store them away from their homes.

This behavior is absolutely normal in the United States — and not just in the “red” states. In New York, the SAFE Act has been almost entirely ignored (with the help of law enforcement, which, in 52 of the state’s 62 counties, have refused to enforce it), as have similar provisions in Connecticut. Likewise, “universal background check” laws in Colorado and Washington have both failed miserably. For some reason, Beto O’Rourke has looked at this state of affairs — and at the federal government’s history of fighting drugs and alcohol — and thought, “Great! Let’s add an actual firearms confiscation drive to the equation! In Texas. In Georgia. In Idaho.”


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