Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is calling on his fellow 2020 primary opponents to sign onto the March for Our Lives plan that outlines a progressive, gun reform policy agenda.
“So we’re left with a choice. We can stick by what we’ve been doing — playing it safe, while we beg Mitch McConnell to take action on the floor of Congress. Or we can follow the lead of the students marching for their lives, and for all of ours, who are demanding we do more to protect them,” the former Texas congressman wrote in an op-ed published in Teen Vogue on Monday.
“I choose the kids. And the question I have for my fellow Democrats in this race and in Congress is: Do you?”
The “Peace Plan for a Safer America” calls for a mandatory buyback program of assault-style weapons. O’Rourke has been an outspoken advocate for such a proposal since a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas killed 22 people at a Walmart.
Several other 2020 primary candidates back a buyback program, but O’Rourke is the only candidate to sign onto the March for Our lives plan, according to his campaign.
The March for Our Lives movement was started by survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. It inspired marches across the country.
O’Rourke, in his op-ed, recalls marching with his son Henry on his shoulders in the El Paso march.
“As we finished marching, we were met by counter-protesters flaunting AR-15s. And when Henry saw them, he asked me why they were there — because, in his mind, assault weapons didn’t belong at a March For Our Lives,” O’Rourke wrote.
“I told him he didn’t have anything to worry about. ‘Just ignore them,’ I said. But when an alleged white supremacist killed 22 people in my hometown of El Paso with a similar weapon, I realized I was wrong and Henry was right,” he added.
O’Rourke’s op-ed was published before a gun safety forum co-hosted by March for Our Lives that will feature 10 Democratic presidential candidates on Wednesday.
Along with O’Rourke, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and businessman Andrew Yang will participate.
Gun reform activists have been pushing for Congress to pass a universal background check bill in the wake of mass shootings across the country over the summer.
The House passed a universal background check bill in February but it has yet to be called for a vote in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has shifted the focus to the White House, saying he will only call a bill to a vote that President Trump will sign. Trump has wavered on his support over such a reform measure.