Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia dismissed fellow Democrat Beto O’Rourke as an extreme outlier on the issue of gun control on Wednesday, and said that even he would not comply with O’Rourke’s proposed confiscation of legally owned rifles.
“Beto’s one human being. He gave his own opinion, OK? I think it was very harmful to make it look like all the Democrats,” Manchin told the Wall Street Journal. “I can tell you one thing: [Beto] is not taking my guns away from me. You tell Beto that OK?”
As a long-shot presidential aspirant, O’Rourke has grown more extreme in his calls for gun confiscation in recent weeks, telling the audience at the third Democratic primary debate in Houston last week, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore.”
Like Manchin, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also sought to distance himself, and his caucus, from O’Rourke’s messaging on gun control on Wednesday.
“I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke, but it’s no excuse not to go forward” with other gun-control policies, Schumer told reporters. Contrary to Schumer’s disclaimer, Democratic senators Kamala Harris of California and Corey Booker of New Jersey, both of whom are also presidential candidates, have explicitly endorsed O’Rourke’s proposal.
The former Texas congressman introduced an ambitious gun-control plan in August that would require Americans who own certain semi-automatic rifles to sell them to the government, and would subject those who refused to criminal liability.
O’Rourke has dismissed the idea that the government would be forced to conduct door-to-door searches in order to ensure compliance with the law, insisting instead that he has “faith” that the vast majority of affected gun owners would voluntarily comply.