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- “Fox and Friends” host Pete Hegseth told viewers on Sunday to buy more AR-15s after former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said he wanted to ban sales of the rifle.
- Hegseth was responding to a soundbite from O’Rourke, in which he referred to the guns as “weapons of war.”
- Hegseth’s comment came two days after a gunman killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques with firearms including two semiautomatic weapons. The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised new gun control laws within 10 days of the attack.
“Fox and Friends” weekend co-host Pete Hegseth told viewers to buy more AR-15s after Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for sales of the rifle to be banned amid a resurge of discussion around the weapon.
“If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely,” O’Rourke said on Twitter. “I just don’t think that we need to sell any more weapons of war into this public.”
After the soundbite was aired on Sunday’s episode of “Fox and Friends,” Hegseth dismissed the comment and O’Rourke’s “weapons of war” phrasing.
“Stocks of gun companies probably will go up after things like this,” Hegseth said. “Responsible gun owners recognize their right to own rifles like that. You can use ‘weapons of war’ or ‘assault ban’ all you want.”
Pointing to the common misconceptions about the AR-15, Hegseth said the comment would likely excite O’Rourke’s base, while gun owners should “go out and get your second AR-15 today.”
“This will appeal to his base: young people who are uninformed about the difference between an automatic and semiautomatic rifle. But go out and get your second AR-15 today. Maybe it’s a good reason to do so,” he continued.
Fox host Pete Hegseth tells viewers to stock up on AR-15s: "Go out and get your second AR-15 today. Maybe it's a good reason to do so." pic.twitter.com/YUjC4USzrA
— Media Matters (@mmfa) March 17, 2019
Gun ownership advocacy groups have pushed back on language that characterizes AR-15s as “assault weapons” because they are not automatic.
Hegseth’s comment came two days after a mass shooting killed 50 people in two New Zealand mosques. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the suspect used five firearms he purchased legally, including two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns, and one lever-action firearm.
Ardern said Monday that the country will have a concrete proposal for new gun control laws within 10 days of the attack, the latest development in the country’s debate over regulating “military-style semi-automatic” rifles.
Guns came to the front of Democrats’ policy priorities after the party took control of the House in November’s midterm elections after a spate of mass shootings across the country.
Most recently, congressional Democrats have called for a national emergency concerning guns in America, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying President Donald Trump should declare a national emergency over the “epidemic of gun violence in America” instead of pushing for a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.