“This is f***ed up,” 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said live on CNN.
The former Texas congressman made the blunt statement Sunday regarding the latest mass shooting to shake the US, after a Saturday rampage in West Texas left seven people dead and added fuel to the debate on gun violence in America.
O’Rourke told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that “thoughts and prayers” have “done nothing” to curb rampant shootings in the country.
“A hundred killed daily in the United States of America. We’re averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close. So yes, this is f***ed up,” O’Rourke said. He used the same expletive to describe the mass shooting Saturday at an event in Virginia.
“If we don’t call it out for what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly, if we’re not able to act decisively then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America, and I cannot accept that,” he said Sunday.
The West Texas shooting follows another mass shooting in early August that killed at least 22 people were killed at a shopping center in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas. Hours after the shooting in El Paso, nine people were killed in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
After those shootings, O’Rourke called for the creation of a national gun registry, a nationwide gun licensing system and the mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles as part of his plan to curb gun violence. Under O’Rourke’s plan, the minimum age to buy a gun would be 21, with an exception for younger people with hunting licenses. The gun licenses would last five years, and those who receive them would be required to complete a safety training program.
He previously proposed the closure of loopholes, including those that allow gun purchases by domestic abusers, as well as a “red flag law” to allow police to ask courts to take guns away from what they see as dangerous individuals.
O’Rourke’s fellow Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, also a Texas native, on Sunday told NBC if he were president he would “maximize executive authority” to combat gun violence, and push Congress to pass “common sense gun safety legislation.”
CNN’s Eric Bradner and Devan Cole contributed to this report.