(CNSNews.com) - Former Democrat presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke is now running for governor of Texas to help his state "realize our full potential," O'Rourke told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
Gun control was and is a major issue in both of his campaigns. In 2020, O'Rourke made headlines for saying, "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." On Sunday, he stuck to his guns:
Look, we are a state that has a long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership. And most of us here in Texas do want -- do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war. So, yes, I still hold this view.
But I also have been listening to my Texans, my fellow Texans who are concerned about this idea of permitless carry that Greg Abbott has signed into law, which allows any Texan to carry a loaded firearm, despite the pleadings of police chiefs and law enforcement from across the state, who said it would make their jobs more dangerous and make it harder for them to protect those that they were sworn to serve in their communities.
So, we don't want extremism in our gun laws. We want to protect the Second Amendment. We want to protect the lives of our fellow Texans. And I know that, when we come together and stop this divisive extremism that we see from Greg Abbott right now, we're going to be able to do that.
Asked to comment on the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, O'Rourke said it "makes the case that we should not allow our fellow Americans to own and use weapons that were originally designed for battlefield use."
That AR-15, that AK-47 has one, single, solitary purpose, and that is killing people as effectively, as efficiently, in as great a number, in as little time as possible. We saw that in Kenosha. We saw that in El Paso, Texas, where 23 people were murdered by someone with an AK-47 just in a matter of minutes.
This is crazy. And we should not come to expect this as a matter of course in America. And the thing is, we don't have to.
So, here in Texas, where most of us, including myself, grew up learning how to use firearms responsibly, let's bring that experience and knowledge to bear. Let's protect the Second Amendment. Let's also make sure that we protect one another by having commonsense gun laws. I know that we can do it.
O'Rourke mentioned the issues he plans to campaign on -- abortion, jobs, schools, health care electricity reliability -- but he did not mention the unchecked illegal immigration crisis until host Dana Bash brought it up:
"I don't need to tell you a big issue in your state is immigration," Bash said. "There were a record number of apprehensions at the Southern border this past year, nearly 1.7 million arrests. You said this week that President Biden could -- quote -- "do a better job" at the border. Do you think his policies are contributing to surges there?" Bash asked.
"I don't think we have seen enough urgency when it comes to rewriting our immigration laws to match the needs and the reality that we see, especially in our border communities," O'Rourke replied:
As I listen to those who live on the border -- and, as you know, Dana, my wife and I are raising our kids on the border here in El Paso -- we want to make sure that we have the resources to meet some of the challenges that we have. We also want to make sure that the laws that we have on the books are improved to meet some of the reality that we see in our communities.
So, yes, we expect more of our president and those who represent us in Congress, but we also expect more of our governor, who's using the border right now as a photo opportunity, scapegoating and vilifying immigrants, asking Texans to -- quote -- "defend themselves" and take matters into their own hands from this invasion, as he describes it.
That's the kind of dangerous rhetoric that inspired that gunman more than two years ago to come to Texas and kill people, claiming that he was defending this state from an invasion of Hispanics who were coming to take over.
So, we have got to be more responsible. And we have got to be more responsive to what we see happening on the ground right now in Texas. As governor, I'm going to listen to those who understand this issue better than anyone else, the people of the U.S.-Mexico border.