Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke’s presidential campaign has reported a Texas state lawmaker’s tweet about him to the FBI as a death threat.
“Someone on the campaign ... contacted the FBI, contacted Twitter. Any time you have somebody threaten to use violence against somebody in this country to resolve a political issue, or really for any reason, that’s a matter for law enforcement,” O’Rourke said in an interview on CNN on Friday.
O’Rourke received some of the loudest applause of the night on the Democratic presidential debate stage in Houston on Thursday when he said, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47” in response to a question about gun violence in America and how he would address it.
“We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans any more,” he said.
That prompted Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Republican, to publish a tweet taunting O’Rourke.
“My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” Cain tweeted, referring to O’Rourke by his birth name.
“This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else,” O'Rourke tweeted in response, along with an image of Cain’s tweet.
This is a death threat, Representative. Clearly, you shouldn't own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else. pic.twitter.com/jsiZmwjMDs— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019
The Texas state lawmaker’s original tweet was removed by Twitter for violating the company’s rules, which state that a user “may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”
Cain later responded to that, calling O’Rourke a “child.”
O’Rourke has made addressing gun violence and mass shootings a central theme of his presidential campaign over the last few weeks after a series of mass shootings, including one in his hometown of El Paso, rocked the U.S. in August.
In response to the recent wave of gun violence stoked by white nationalism, O’Rourke has proposed an expansive plan to establish a national gun registry, a national gun licensing system, and a mandatory buyback program of assault-style rifles.
His campaign has begun selling T-shirts that read, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.”
Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15.Buy your shirt now: https://t.co/kEJxoLvfH5 pic.twitter.com/KKpAKX4IL8 — Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 13, 2019
O’Rourke told CNN on Friday that Cain’s tweet threatening him proved ordinary U.S. citizens should not have assault-style rifles.
“Representative Briscoe Cain is making the case that no one should have an AR-15 that they can hold over someone else in this country and say, ‘Look, if we disagree on something, have a look at my AR-15.’ Absolutely wrong,” O’Rourke said.
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.