The Colorado mother who challenged Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on his call to confiscate millions of guns said the crowd tried to intimidate her, but she was determined to speak her mind.
Lauren Boebert, a mother of four and owner of Shooters Grill, said she was alarmed by O’Rourke’s declaration at this month's primary debate that "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."
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"I said ‘hell no, he's not,'" Boebert told the Washington Free Beacon. "I will make that drive to let him know that we don't need him coming to our state and pandering for our votes by talking up our tragedies and standing on the graves of our victims just to gain him more popularity in the polls."
Boebert drove to Aurora to confront O'Rourke at a town hall last Thursday. She said the crowd of O'Rourke's supporters tried to pressure her into not speaking.
"There was a little bit of intimidation, but who am I to let that keep me quiet on behalf of millions of Americans?" Boebert said. "So, I really had to suppress that and stand up for them and be a voice. I was speaking on behalf of those who weren't there, couldn't be there."
For an hour before Beto spoke, Boebert said many in the crowd were deriding her for carrying a handgun at the event. At one point, Boebert said a woman smacked her hand as she tried recording the event on her phone. While she was speaking to O’Rourke his supporters attempted to shout her down—against even the objections of the candidate—calling her names like "bootlicker" and booing her.
"It was a very hostile crowd, but it was a risk worth taking, for sure," she said.
Boebert said she felt a special urgency to drive the three hours to the rally because she wanted to make sure there was a voice in the crowd to accurately represent gun owners.
"I had to be there, and I had to be heard because [O’Rourke] is making statements saying he was speaking on behalf of conservatives and Republicans all over America," she said. "That they come up to him and they tell him they would willingly sell him their AR-15s and their AK-47s because they don't like what's going on. I am in that crowd, and I know that's not what we're saying. We're saying ‘hell no' to him. You aren't touching our property that we purchased. How are you going to buy back something that was not yours?"
Boebert opened Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., with her husband six years ago. It has since gained notoriety for its armed staff, and Boebert has since become an outspoken gun-rights advocate. However, it wasn’t always that way.
"When we opened, we did not carry firearms," she said. "That was literally to defend ourselves. There was an incident in the back alley where a man was physically beat to death. No weapons, no guns. He was beat to death by another man’s hands. Right behind our restaurant. I thought, ‘Gosh, what would I do if something like that happened inside? How would I protect my people?’"
Boebert said after the murder she bought a gun to carry and researched Colorado’s gun laws. She said she decided to begin legally open carrying immediately—which doesn’t require a permit in Colorado—while she waited for her concealed-carry permit application to be approved. By then her waitress staff had requested they also be able to open carry for protection while at work.
"They all had concealed-carry training, and they had their guns in their purses in the back of the restaurant," she said. "And we agreed that it is a much wiser decision to have your firearm on your person rather than in your purse in the back. And, honestly, our customers couldn’t care less. They have guns too."
About a year after the staff began carrying guns, the restaurant received attention from national media outlets like CBS and ABC.
"So, we accidentally stumbled into advocacy of the Second Amendment," Boebert said. "I’m so honored and so proud to be a voice for the Second Amendment because it is the amendment that defends all others."
Attending O'Rourke’s rally did not change Boebert’s mind about his gun confiscation plan. She said he is focusing on the wrong people—law-abiding Americans.
"He’s trying to take guns away from good people," Boebert said. "He’s not saying take guns away from bad people. He’s talking about disarming law-abiding citizens."
She wasn’t satisfied with O’Rourke’s response to her question, either.
"I wish Beto would have answered my question," Boebert said. "I did ask him, ‘How do you intend to legislate the hearts of men?’ Because it’s not just legislating guns. Criminals, by definition, they do not obey the laws. So, it doesn’t matter what law you put into place, they are not going to obey it. So, really, it comes down to ‘How do you get their hearts right?’ You can’t legislate that. He didn’t have an answer for that."