Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke is an odd little candidate. His appeal, whatever there is of it, is localized with white college educated hipsters. Meanwhile his appeal among non-college whites is so terrible that he performs better with minorities than white voters.
(He performs so poorly overall that the entire matter is academic.)
This still leaves him better off than Pete Buttgieg who appeals entirely to college hipsters and whom black people would never vote for. But it also means that there’s no downside for Beto going all in on gun control. He can’t alienate non-college educated whites and they’re the only Democrats who still believe in the Second Amendment. All he can do is improve his standing with hipsters.
(And he hasn’t even managed that.)
Look at it from his perspective. He has nothing to worry about in the primaries from NRA members because any Democrats who support gun rights would be as likely to vote for him as black people are to vote for Buttigieg. Meanwhile by going to a more radical extreme on gun control, he can outfox some of his rivals by outlefting them. Or at least that was the plan.
And maybe, a month ago it would have worked. But O’Rourke has been failing miserably since then so it didn’t.