Beto O'Rourke appears to soften on 'mandatory buybacks,' floats exception for certain AR-15 owners

Former congressman Beto O'Rourke may be softening his signature stance on mandatory gun buybacks after suggesting he might consider an exception for certain AR-15 owners.

O'Rourke, who famously declared during a presidential debate that he would "take" AR-15s and AK-47s, was confronted by a student in Iowa on Friday who described himself as a "hunter" who uses an AR-15.

"What about those people who use that as a way to, you know, get dinner, who live down south who don't really have a lot of options for food, and they don't have money but they can get their own?" the student asked.

The student went on to explain that an AR-15 is "much more efficient" at killing an animal like a deer and how if a weaker gun is used, it could potentially put the animal through more pain, and its adrenaline can "spoil" the meat.

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O'Rourke acknowledged that this was the "first time" he's heard of anyone using an AR-15 to hunt a deer.

"Perhaps a way to address a legitimate concern or need is to then ensure that those who have a need or want to use an AR-15 are able to keep it at a hunting club or at a gun range, so that there is some control and safeguard still placed on that firearm," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke had a drastically different stance in 2018 when he was running for Senate against the GOP Texas incumbent, Ted Cruz.

During an interview on "The Chad Hasty Show" in April 2018, the host asked: "I own an AR-15. A lot of our listeners out there own AR-15s. Why should they not have one?"

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"To be clear, they should have them," O'Rourke responded. "If you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly."

He added later in the same interview: "If you own a gun, keep that gun. Nobody wants to take it away from you -- at least I don’t want to do that.”