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Presidential candidate O'Rourke follows stop at state gun show with speech at gun-control rally

by John Moritz | August 17, 2019 at 4:23 p.m.
In this June 1, 2019, photo, Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke speaks during the 2019 California Democratic Party State Organizing Convention in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A day after calling for a national gun registry and buyback program, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke visited a Conway gun show on Saturday and then spoke at rally for gun control on the state Capitol steps.

O'Rourke, a former U.S. Representative from El Paso, Texas, invoked the deadly mass shooting in his hometown earlier this month in calling for gun control measures that he said would resonate even in conservative states like Texas and Arkansas.

On Twitter, O'Rourke posted a photo from the G&S Conway Gun Show, in which he stood under a sign advertising an AR-15 rifle selling for $395. O'Rourke said he heard different perspectives at the event.

On Friday, O'Rourke released a policy proposal calling for a renewed federal assault weapons ban in addition to a mandatory buyback program that would fine people who do not return their assault weapons.

Later Saturday, O'Rourke is set to be the keynote speaker at the state Democratic Party's annual Clinton Dinner in Little Rock. O'Rourke said that in addition to visiting a gun show, he had met with Arkansans at a Hispanic supermarket in Little Rock earlier Saturday.

"They remind me a lot of Democrats in Texas," O'Rourke said of the state's Democrats. "They've been written off for so long, made to feel as though the state doesn't count in our national politics. They understand just as strongly as we do in Texas that we have every opportunity, and every right, to make our voices heard and to assert ourselves into our national politics."

The Republican Party of Arkansas, in a statement released Saturday, said the congressman's visit had come "with minimal fanfare."

O'Rourke spoke at a rally organized by the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

He is the second presidential candidate to speak about gun control in Arkansas this week. Earlier in the week, another Democratic candidate, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, also spoke to the group.

A report by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last year found that the state had the 7th-highest rate of gun deaths in the nation.

[RELATED: Read the report on gun deaths at]


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