Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke took a strong stance against guns—and the Twitter trolls came for him.
During Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Houston, O’Rourke stated that he would push for a ban on the possession of AR-15s, the military-style assault rifle that is the weapon of choice for mass shootings, including the one in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, which left 22 people dead. When asked about the extent of his stance on gun control, O’Rourke said, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15s, your AK-47s, we are not going to allow them to be used against fellow Americans any more.” The crowd cheered.
In response to O’Rourke’s statement, Texas Republican lawmaker Briscoe Cain decided it was a good idea to tweet, “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” using the former El Paso congressman’s legal name to sound particularly serious. The tweet sure sounds like a threat, and O’Rourke replied on Twitter it was a “death threat,” adding that “clearly, you shouldn’t own an AR-15—and neither should anyone else.”
Since Twitter’s rules prohibit users from threatening “violence against an individual or a group of people,” albeit only if the tweets are reported, and the moderators agree it’s a threat, Cain’s tweet was deleted. The tweet was also reportedly sent to the FBI as it threatens a presidential candidate.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. In what seems like a flouting of Twitter’s rules, Cain took a screenshot of O’Rourke’s response to his tweet, which included the since-deleted threat, reposted it, and continued name-calling. If this all sounds very middle school, well, *gestures broadly* have you seen the state of politics these days?
We’ve reached out to Twitter to see if this tweet violates their rules or if trolls can now just screenshot their threats and continue to use the social media site.