Pete Buttigieg attacks gun mandatory buyback; Beto O’Rourke stands firm

Democratic debate
Pete Buttigieg spars with Beto O’Rourke over gun control in Tuesday night’s debate.
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg clashed over the future of the Democratic Party’s policy on gun control.

O’Rourke said he believed the government should enforce a mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles, while Buttigieg thought that plan was fuzzy on the details and would imperil the Democratic Party’s appeal to moderates.

“We cannot wait for purity tests; we just have to get something done,” Buttigieg said.


The 12 top Democratic presidential candidates sharply criticized each other over healthcare, gun control and anti-trust policy on the Ohio stage where they met for the fourth Democratic primary debate.

Oct. 16, 2019

“This is not a purity test,” O’Rourke replied, saying that if the government was going to ban the sale of assault rifles for being too dangerous, then logically it followed that those guns should be taken off the streets.

O’Rourke also implied that Buttigieg’s caution on confiscations was the result of poll testing and focus groups. Buttigieg replied: “I don’t need lessons from you on courage. We are this close to an assault weapons ban” — for sales, that is.

Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro agreed that O’Rourke’s plan was fuzzy, adding that if officers weren’t going “door to door, it’s not really mandatory.”

He also said that mandatory confiscation could bring more intrusive policing that falls most heavily on communities of color, citing the recent case of a Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a black woman while doing a welfare check on her home. “I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door,” Castro said.