Texas Democrat candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke unleashed profanity on someone who apparently laughed while he criticized gun ownership laws after the Uvalde mass school shooting.
O’Rourke, a former U.S. congressman and failed U.S. Senate and presidential candidate, was stumping during a town hall in Mineral Wells, Texas, on Wednesday as he now campaigns to oust Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in November. O’Rourke spoke to a small crowd about the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead.
“Now 11 weeks since we lost 19 kids and their two teachers shot to death with a weapon originally designed for use in combat – legally purchased by an 18-year-old, who did not try to obtain one when he was 16 or 17, but followed the law that was on the books ladies and gentlemen that says you can buy not one, but you can buy two or more if you want to, AR-15s,” O’Rourke said.
“Hundreds of rounds of ammunition and take that weapon that was originally designed for use on the battlefields of Vietnam to penetrate an enemy’s soldier at 500-feet and knock him down dead,” O’Rourke said, briefly taking a knee and expressively pointing off to the distance.
“Up against kids…” O’Rourke continues, before hearing laughter and turning around.
“It may be funny to you mother—-er,” but it’s not funny to me,” he shouts as supporters cheer.
The crowd stands and applauds until O’Rourke continues speaking.
“We’re going to make sure that our kids who are starting their school year right now that they don’t have to worry about somebody walking into their school with a weapon like this,” he said. “It would take common sense steps to find the common ground – Democrats and Republicans, gun owners, non-gun owners alike.”
Law enforcement response to the Uvalde shooting has been the subject of severe scrutiny. According to a Texas House committee investigation, 376 law enforcement officers from various agencies responded to the school, but wounded victims waited for over an hour for help until a U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit breached the classroom and killed the 18-year-old suspected gunman, Salvador Ramos.
A 77-page investigative report released by the state House last month details how Ramos – as soon as he turned 18 about a week before the shooting – ordered 1,740 rounds of ammunition from an online retailer shipped to his doorstep at a cost of $1,761.50. He also ordered an AR-15-style rifle for shipment to a Uvalde gun store at a cost of $2,054.28. He bought a second AR-15-style in-person at the same store for $1,081.42, before returning twice to pick up more ammo and the first gun once the shipment arrived.
“The owner of the gun store described the attacker as an ‘average customer with no ‘red flags’ or suspicious conditions – just that he was always alone and quiet,” according to the report. “The owner of the store remembered asking how an 18-year-old could afford such purchases (the rifles alone were over $3,000), and the attacker simply said he had saved up.”
A background check was conducted, and the attacker qualified for the purchases. Ramos was reportedly teased by peers that he would one day become a school shooter.
The investigative report noted that despite the school’s five-foot tall exterior fence and adopted security policies to lock exterior doors and internal classroom doors, there was a “culture of compliance” among staff who propped open doors. The school administration also “tacitly condoned” the skirting of safety protocols amid a shortage of keys for substitute teachers.
In the aftermath of the shooting, investigators learned of Ramos’ past alarming and unchecked behavior, including several residents recalling seeing him carrying a bag of bloodied dead cats. He also was allegedly driven by the allure of social media fame, began to develop a fascination with rape, violence and school shootings online, and one teacher remarked he was the student she “feared the most.”