Briscoe Cain, a Republican state representative from Texas, told presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke that “my AR is ready for you” over Twitter on Thursday night. O’Rourke quickly responded, calling the tweet a “death threat.”
“Clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15 – and neither should anyone else,” the presidential hopeful added.
The Twitter back-and-forth began after Thursday’s Democratic Debate in Houston, Texas, where O’Rourke spoke extensively about the need for stricter gun regulations. Military-style weapons, like the one used in the El Paso mass shooting in August, shouldn’t be in the hands of American citizens, O’Rourke argued.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said during the debate. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. O’Rourke Made Several Comments About Gun Control During the Debate
O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman, spoke emphatically about necessary gun restrictions on Thursday. When asked if he still believes gun owners should be forced to sell their AR-15s and AK-47s to the government – an argument the former congressman has made before – O’Rourke said yes.
Weapons that were “designed to kill people on a battlefield” and contain “high-impact, high-velocity rounds” should not be in civilians’ hands, O’Rourke said.
“When we see that being used against children… and in [the mass shooting in] Odesa, I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15, and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15,” he said.
O’Rourke also argued that certain common-sense gun laws may not be as partisan of an issue as many think, giving an example of a recent Arkansas gun show he attended.
“And you might be surprised, there was some common ground there,” O’Rourke said. “[There were] folks who said: ‘I would willingly give that up, cut it to pieces. I don’t need this weapon to hunt, to defend myself. It is a weapon of war.'”
After the debate, Cain tweeted: “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” referring to O’Rourke’s legal name. After a response from O’Rourke, Cain retaliated: “You’re a child Robert Francis.”
2. O’Rourke’s Campaign is Reporting the Tweet to the FBI
O’Rourke’s campaign is reporting Cain’s initial tweet to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to CNN correspondent Leyla Santiago.
“Checked in with O’Rourke campaign,” she wrote. “Press secretary tells me, ‘We are reporting to FBI.'”
Cain’s tweet was later removed from Twitter because it violates the social media company’s rule that “you may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people,” a Twitter spokesman told the Dallas Morning News.
The tweet can still be viewed on Twitter, but only in relation O’Rourke’s response.
3. Cain Was Elected in 2016 and is a Member of the Conservative Texas Freedom Caucus
Cain represents Texas’s District 128 and was elected to office in November 2016. The state representative is also a member of the Texas Freedom Caucus, a conservative caucus in the state House.
According to its website, the caucus’s mission is to: “amplify the voice of liberty-minded, grassroots Texans who want bold action; to protect life, strengthen families, defend the U.S. and Texas Bills of Rights, restrain government; a revitalize personal and economic freedoms in the State of Texas.” Other members include Rep. Mike Lang, Rep. Bill Zedler and Rep. Mayes Middleton, among others.
Some of Cain’s 2016 campaign themes were “border security, jobs and the economy, faith and family values, transparency and accountability, and sanctity of life.” His campaign website wrote about security at the border: “With over 1,200 miles of border with Mexico, Texas must act to stop the detrimental economic and social effects that come with illegal immigration.”
4. Cain’s Twitter Battle with Beto Goes Further Back
Cain’s most recent social media feud with O’Rourke isn’t the first time the representative has tweeted at the presidential candidate in defense of Second Amendment rights.
Earlier this month, Cain tweeted: “Dear @BetoORourke, I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Sincerely, A Real Texan.”
Cain has also recently retweeted several other anti-O’Rourke comments, including one that read: “‘When I Am President, I Will Take Away Your Guns,’ Says Man Who Will Never Be President.”
5. Cain is Hoping Supporters Will Give Money to His Campaign
Fueled by media attention from his spat with O’Rourke, Cain is now hoping to drive donations to his campaign fund. On Friday, only a few hours after his AR tweet, Cain posted a link on Facebook to a “Briscoe Cain Campaign” donation page, imploring his supporters to help “fight the gun grabbers.”
“The unofficial motto of Texas has long been, ‘Come And Take It.’ If you don’t understand that Robert Francis, you’ve spent too much time in DC,” he wrote.
The linked donations page adds: “DONATE TO TELL BETO ‘COME AND TAKE IT!’ Robert Francis O’Rourke and the left want to confiscate our guns. I wont let them.'”
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