AURORA, Colo. — Beto O’Rourke lit into Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on gun control on Thursday, accusing him of doing “absolutely nothing” on the issue.
“Ask Chuck Schumer what he’s been able to get done,” the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters after a town hall here, responding to Schumer’s recent dismissal of O’Rourke’s call for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons. “We still don’t have background checks. Didn’t have them when he was in the majority, either. So the game that he’s played, the politics that he’s pursued have given us absolutely nothing and have produced a situation where we lose nearly 40,000 of our fellow Americans every year.”
O’Rourke’s remarks came after the Times Union in New York reported that Schumer, on a call with reporters, appeared to brush off O’Rourke’s proposal for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.
"I don't know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O'Rourke, but it's no excuse not to go forward," Schumer said, according to the report.
Schumer has a long record as a gun control advocate, dating back to his time in the House when he authored the Brady bill and the federal assault weapons ban.
O’Rourke’s supporters have touted recent polling showing public support for a buyback, especially among Democrats. The subject remains politically fraught, however, and some Democrats have accused O’Rourke of playing into Republican fears about gun seizures.
But O'Rourke, speaking at a town hall near the theater where a gunman killed 12 people in 2012, suggested he is open to expanding his proposal even more to include additional classes of guns.
After a Second Amendment advocate carrying a Glock pistol on her hip challenged him on the mandatory buyback, Evan Todd, a survivor of the Columbine High School massacre, asked O’Rourke why he didn’t expand his buyback proposal to include all semiautomatic weapons.
“Don’t you think it’s time we get rid of all semi-auto firearms?” Todd asked.
O’Rourke said he was open to listening, inviting Todd to talk with him “about the kinds of weapons that are going to be important to be regulated.”
He told reporters that he had shared his cellphone number with Todd and that “if there’s a way to improve what we have proposed, I want to make sure that we’re reflecting that.”
Of Schumer and mandatory buybacks, O’Rourke said, “What he may not know, but what I hear loud and clear— because I’m traveling the country listening to my fellow Americans — is that the people are there.”