Beto O’Rourke fired back Sunday after fellow Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg criticized his mandatory gun “buyback” proposal as playing into the hands of Republicans.

“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” Mr. O’Rourke declared in a much-talked-about moment during the third Democratic primary debate Thursday. The former Texas congressman later explained that he would use local law enforcement to ensure that all Americans hand over their “assault weapons.”

Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that he agreed with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who said Mr. O’Rourke’s comment would be “played for years at Second Amendment rallies with organizations that try to scare people by saying Democrats are coming for your guns.”

Mr. Buttigieg said Republicans and Democrats have a “golden moment” to come together on gun control legislation and that Mr. O’Rourke’s comment will serve as a diversion.

“Right now we have an amazing moment on our hands,” he said. “We have agreement among the American people for not just universal backgrounds checks, but we have a majority in favor of red-flag laws, [banning] high-capacity magazines, banning the new sale of assault weapons — this is a golden moment to finally do something, because we’ve been arguing about this for as long as I’ve been alive.

“When even this president and even [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands,” he added. “Let’s make the most of it and get these things done.”

Mr. O’Rourke fired off a pair of tweets Sunday accusing Mr. Pete Buttigieg of perpetuating the same “calculation and fear” that “got us here in the first place.”

“Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms?'” the former congressman tweeted. “That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it.”

“When candidates say, ‘At least Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are pretending to be interested,’ [expletive], that is not enough,” he added. “Neither is poll-testing your message. Gun violence is a life or death issue — and we have to represent the bold ideas of people all over the country.”

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