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Beto O’Rourke attends town hall on gun violence in Aurora

Conversation was at times contentious

O’Rourke spoke with residents about gun violence.
Photo: Abby Wehrman · The Sentry

Presidential Candidate Beto O’Rourke was the latest to visit the Aurora Municipal Center, stopping by on Sept. 19 for a town-hall style rally focusing on the ever-present topic of gun control.

After an emotional introduction from Colorado State Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was murdered during the 2012 shooting at Aurora Centry 16, O’Rourke himself took to the steps of the Aurora Municipal Center in front of a modest crowd to speak on nearly all his major campaign points. 

His opening speech touched on health care, immigration, racism, and economics before turning the discussion to America’s gun problem.

He spoke briefly of President Trump, accusing him of being a major proponent of the recent El Paso Walmart shooting in O’Rourke’s hometown that left 22 people dead by a gunman specifically targeting Mexican citizens. 

“This wasn’t just a disaster that befell our community,” O’Rourke said. “This is a violent, racist country—with a racist in the White House who’s directing that violence against the most vulnerable among us, including communities of immigrants. So when this happens in El Paso, Texas, we must connect the dots for our fellow Americans so that they understand the cost and the consequence of Donald Trump—so they understand the cost and the consequence of our failure collectively, because all of us are the government.”

The presidential candidate then opened the floor to questions from the crowd. 

One woman, who came carrying her glock on her hip, vehemently opposed O’Rourke’s Sept. 12 debate statement, in which he said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s.”

“Hell no, you’re not,” protested the gun-toting woman. She went on to tell O’Rourke that his job should be to “legislate the hearts of man” and continue to let citizens uphold the right to defend themselves.

“I refuse to accept that people are inherently evil,” O’Rourke responded. “This doesn’t happen in any other country. There are 329 million of us. There are 390 million guns. No other country has this kind of ratio. No other country allows its citizens to buy weapons that were designed for war.”

The rally was volatile and turbulent at times. Arguments broke out in the crowd more than once. But O’Rourke remained composed, taking time to thank each member of the crowd who asked him a question and offered a personalized response.

This connection between O’Rourke and the still-bleeding town of Aurora makes his visit particularly poignant. The 2012 theatre shooting is no longer on the list of America’s deadliest mass murders, and the loss of life still takes a toll on its citizens, who will not soon forget. 

O’Rourke remains committed to addressing gun violence, even if his proposal might turn off some voters.

“Screw the polls. And your political prospects….I’m going to make sure that we deliver,” O’Rourke said. “The words that I’ve been saying are very reflective of how this country feels. The politics for whatever reason have not caught up to us. Let’s see if we can change the politics with our resolve and your inspiration.”

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