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The Latest: O’Rourke says Buttigieg is afraid to act on guns

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Gabby Giffords

FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2019, file photo, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, speaks during a news conference to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation to expand background checks for sales and transfers of firearms, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ten White House hopefuls will participate Wednesday in an all-day forum on gun policy hosted by MSNBC, March for Our Lives and Giffords. March for Our Lives is the student-led gun control movement sparked by the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year, and Giffords is the advocacy organization set up by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head during a constituent meeting in 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on a gun control forum for presidential candidates in Las Vegas (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke is accusing one of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination of being “afraid of doing the right thing right now” when it comes to guns.

O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, was speaking about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Both attended a gun policy forum Wednesday in Las Vegas.

O’Rourke supports a mandatory government buyback program for assault-style weapons. Buttigieg says such a policy has “mixed results” and likened it to a “shiny object” that makes it harder to pass other gun control policies now.

O’Rourke says that many Americans support gun buyback and that “it’s time to lead.”

O’Rourke himself was criticized earlier in the day by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said O’Rourke only supported a gun licensing program after the shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.

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10:15 a.m.

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is kicking off a gun control forum with presidential candidates in Las Vegas by calling for Democrats, Republicans and independents to come together and “be responsible” and fight for change.

Giffords was on stage with March For Our Lives student activists and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. She said “stopping gun violence takes courage” and new ideas.

Giffords was shot and gravely wounded during a constituent meeting in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. She went on to set up a gun control advocacy organization, which co-hosted Wednesday’s event.

Nine of the 10 leading presidential candidates were expected to attend and speak about gun violence. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders canceled his appearance after having a heart procedure for a blocked artery Tuesday night.

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12:05 a.m.

As impeachment fever overtakes Washington, the progress made on stemming gun violence risks falling by the wayside. But gun control advocates are determined to prevent that from happening.

Ten White House hopefuls will be in Las Vegas for a forum on gun policy on Wednesday — almost two years to the day after a gunman killed 58 people at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

The forum is an effort to keep gun violence front and center of the debate.

Polls show that a majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. But negotiations between President Donald Trump’s administration and lawmakers over background checks have stalled in recent weeks. The effort faced long odds even before the impeachment inquiry.

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