During an interview with British Sky News reporter Mark Stone, Cruz, who was seen hugging and meeting those present at the vigil, was asked about when to reform the laws on firearms. Cruz responded by saying, “You know, it’s easy to get into politics.”
“But it’s important, it’s the heart of the matter,” Stone replied, according to a video of the interview viewed more than a million times Thursday morning.
From there, the pair had a tense exchange over gun reform laws.
“I understand that’s where the media likes to go,” Cruz said.
The Sky News reporter replied that it did not, saying many people he spoke to at the vigil also had gun control on their minds.
“Democratic and media proposals inevitably, when a violent psychopath murders people…” Cruz said, before being cut off by Stone. The reporter said the alleged shooter was “a violent psychopath who is able to get a gun so easily – an 18-year-old with two AR-15s.”
The senator ignored him and continued, “If you want to stop violent crime, the Democrats’ proposals — none of them would have stopped that.”
Stone then asked, “Why does this only happen in your country? …. Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so horrible?
It was then that Cruz shot back, “You know, I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful. You have your political program. God loves you.”
As he tried to walk away, Stone said he just wanted to “understand why you don’t think guns are the problem.”
“It’s just an American problem,” the reporter told Cruz.
At the end of the exchange, Cruz again ignored the reporter’s question and accused Stone of spreading propaganda before walking away.
“Why do people come from all over the world to America? Because it is the freest, most prosperous and safest country on the planet,” the senator said. “Stop being a propagandist.”
Cruz’s spokesperson, Steve Guest, told the Washington Post that Stone’s questions about the mass shootings in the United States were incorrect. The guest pointed to research from the Crime Research Prevention Center, a pro-gun nonprofit founded by former Trump appointee John R. Lott Jr., which says “the United States is well below the global average in terms of the number of public mass shootings”.
“Contrary to a reporter’s claim that mass shootings are a uniquely American problem, the data shows that’s not accurate,” Guest said. “Besides not being true, making this false argument isn’t really helpful.”
A Sky News spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
The heated exchange comes shortly before Cruz is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting over Memorial Day weekend in Houston, a few hundred miles from Uvalde. The event is the biggest gathering of the gun lobby this year and comes after cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will also feature speeches from a group including Abbott and former President Donald Trump.
Gun rights groups have given Cruz’s campaigns or PACs more than $442,000 during his career, the most of any lawmaker between 1989 and 2020, according to data from the Federal Election Commission of 2021 cited by OpenSecrets. Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) are two of three top lawmakers to receive financial contributions from gun rights supporters, according to Axios.
Cruz has come under fire from both Democrats and Liberals in recent days after he tweeted his thoughts and prayers to the victims, saying he and his wife, Heidi, “worshipfully raise children and families from the horrific shooting in Uvalde”. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) questioned why Cruz still had to speak at the NRA convention, while Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) tweeted a four-letter expletive at the Republican senator.
On Wednesday, Cruz was among the Republicans at Abbott’s Uvalde press conference when Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupted the governor to tell him he was “not doing anything” to stop it. the next mass shooting. Cruz, who was standing behind Abbott, told O’Rourke to “sit down” as the Democrat was escorted out of the auditorium.
Beto O’Rourke takes on Abbott in Uvalde: ‘You’re not doing anything’
“It’s on you. Until you choose to do something, it will continue to happen,” O’Rourke told Abbott, who mostly avoided eye contact with the Democrat and did not respond. “Someone has to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed.”
Cruz has also caught the eye of one of his favorite sparring partners, late night host Jimmy Kimmel. On ABC, Kimmel made an emotional appeal to Cruz and Republicans to pass laws that could help prevent future mass shootings. While background check bills like HR 8 have passed the House, Senate Democrats and pundits are pessimistic about the possibility of striking a deal to enact it.
HR 8 gun background check bill likely won’t pass, even after Uvalde
“I don’t think Ted Cruz doesn’t care about kids. I do not know. I refuse to believe that he is not affected by it. He’s a father. I bet he went to bed sick in his stomach last night. It’s easy to call someone a monster. But he’s not a monster, he’s a human being. And some people might not like to hear me say that, but it’s true,” Kimmel said. “So here’s the thing I want to say to Ted Cruz, the human being, and Governor Abbott, and everyone else: It’s okay to admit you’ve made a mistake. In fact, it’s not not just correct, you have to admit you made a mistake when your mistake kills the kids in your state.
He added: “It takes a great person to do something like this. It takes a brave person to do something like this. And do I think these men are brave people? No I do not know. I do not know. But man, I would love for them to surprise me.
But on Fox News, Cruz blasted what he called the “political posturing” of Democrats like O’Rourke after Uvalde’s attack. He told host Jesse Watters that he wanted schools to install bulletproof doors and bulletproof glass to help prevent shootings.
“Have a door to get in and out of the school and have that door, armed police at that door,” Cruz explained. “If that had happened, if those federal grants had gone to that school, when that psychopath showed up, the armed police could have gotten him out and we would have 19 kids and two teachers still alive.”