Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stormed away from an interview Wednesday for the victims of the Uvalde, Texas, massacre after a British journalist asked him why mass shootings happen “only in America.”
Cruz joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and other local and state leaders at a vigil for the 19 children and two adults killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting on Tuesday. Cruz, who is among Republicans who are vehemently opposed to Democratic proposals to expand background checks on gun sales, has called for increased school safety and condemned “political posturing” in the aftermath of the attack. According to the nonprofit OpenSecrets, he is also the lawmaker whose campaigns or political action committees have received the most money from the gun rights lobby.
Cruz, who was seen hugging and meeting with those at the vigil, was asked whether now was the time to reform gun laws during an interview with British Sky News reporter Mark Stone. “You know, it’s easy to go to politics,” Cruz responded.
“But it’s important, it’s at the heart of the problem,” Stone responded, according to a video of the interview that had been viewed over 1 million times as of Thursday morning.
Following that, the two engaged in a heated debate about gun reform legislation.
“I understand where the media likes to go,” Cruz said. The Sky News reporter responded that this was not the case, stating that many of the people he spoke with at the vigil were also concerned about gun control.
“When some violent psychopath murders people, the Democratic and media proposals inevitably…” Cruz said before Stone cut him off. According to the journalist, the alleged shooter was “a violent psychopath who can get a weapon so easily — an 18-year-old with two AR-15s.”
The heated exchange occurs just days before Cruz is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, a few hundred miles away from Uvalde. The event is the largest gun lobby gathering this year, following cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will also include talks from Abbott and former President Donald Trump.
According to Federal Election Commission data from 2021 cited by OpenSecrets, gun-rights groups gave Cruz’s campaigns or PACs more than $442,000 during his career, the most of any lawmaker between 1989 and 2020. According to Axios, Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are two of the top three lawmakers who receive financial contributions from gun-rights supporters.
Cruz has been chastised by Democrats and liberals in recent days after tweeting his condolences and prayers to the victims, saying he and his wife, Heidi, were “fervently lifting up in prayer the children and families in the horrific shooting in Uvalde.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questioned why Cruz was still scheduled to speak at the NRA convention, while Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) slammed Cruz with a four-letter expletive.
Cruz was present at Abbott’s news conference in Uvalde on Wednesday when Democratic Texas gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke interrupted the governor to tell him he was “doing nothing” to prevent the next mass shooting. As O’Rourke was escorted out of the auditorium, Cruz, who was standing behind Abbott, told him to “sit down.”
Cruz also drew the attention of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who is one of his favorite sparring partners. Kimmel made an emotional plea to Cruz and Republicans on ABC to pass legislation that would help prevent future mass shootings. While background check bills such as H.R. 8 have passed the House, Senate Democrats and experts are skeptical that a deal can be reached to make it law.