During an interview with British Sky News reporter Mark Stone, Cruz, who was seen hugging and meeting with those at the vigil, was asked whether this was the moment to reform gun laws. Cruz responded by saying, You know, its easy to go to politics.
But its important, its at the heart of the issue, Stone replied, according to a video of the interview viewed more than 1 million times as of Thursday morning.
From there, the two had a tense back-and-forth about gun reform laws.
I get that thats where the media likes to go, Cruz said.
The Sky News reporter replied that that was not the case, saying many of the people he spoke with at the vigil also had gun control on their minds.
The proposals from the Democrats and the media inevitably, when some violent psychopath murders people Cruz said, before he was cut off by Stone. The journalist said that the alleged shooter was a violent psychopath whos able to get a weapon so easily an 18-year-old with two AR-15s.
The senator ignored him and continued: If you want to stop violent crime, the proposals the Democrats have none of them would have stopped this.
Then Stone asked, Why does this only happen in your country? …. Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?
Thats when Cruz fired back: You know, Im sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful. Youve got your political agenda. God love you.
As he attempted to walk away, Stone said he just wanted to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem.
It is just an American problem, the journalist said to Cruz.
At the end of the exchange, Cruz again ignored the journalists question and accused Stone of pushing propaganda before walking away.
Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because its the freest, most prosperous, safest country on Earth, the senator said. Stop being a propagandist.
Cruz spokesman Steve Guest told The Washington Post that Stones line of questioning surrounding mass shootings in the United States was incorrect. Guest pointed to research from the Crime Research Prevention Center, a pro-firearms nonprofit founded by former Trump appointee John R. Lott Jr., that claims the U.S. is well below the world average in terms of the number of mass public shootings.
Contrary to a reporters assertion that suggested mass shootings are a uniquely American problem, the data shows that is not accurate, Guest said. In addition to not being true, making that false argument isnt actually helpful.
A spokesperson with Sky News did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The fiery exchange comes shortly before Cruz is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Associations annual meeting over Memorial Day weekend in Houston, a few hundred miles away from Uvalde. The event is the largest gun-lobby gathering this year and comes after cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will also feature speeches by a group that includes Abbott and former president Donald Trump.
Gun-rights groups have given Cruzs campaigns or PACs more than $442,000 during his career, the most of any lawmaker between 1989 and 2020, according to Federal Election Commission data from 2021 cited by OpenSecrets. Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) are two of the top three lawmakers to receive financial contributions from gun-rights supporters, according to Axios.
Cruz has faced criticism from Democrats and liberals in recent days after he tweeted his thoughts 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-N.Y.) questioned why Cruz was still scheduled to speak at the NRA convention, while Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) tweeted a four-letter expletive to the Republican senator.
On Wednesday, Cruz was among the Republicans at Abbotts news conference in Uvalde when Democratic Texas gubernatorial nominee Beto ORourke interrupted the governor to tell him he was doing nothing to stop the next mass shooting. Cruz, who was standing behind Abbott, told ORourke to sit down as the Democrat was escorted out of the auditorium.
This is on you. Until you choose to do something, this will continue to happen, ORourke said to Abbott, who mostly avoided eye contact with the Democrat and did not respond. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state, or they will continue to be killed.
Cruz also got the attention of one of his favorite sparring partners, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. On ABC, Kimmel offered an emotional appeal to Cruz and Republicans to pass laws that could help prevent future mass shootings. While background check bills like H.R. 8 have passed in the House, Senate Democrats and experts are pessimistic that a deal could be done to pass it into law.
I dont believe Ted Cruz doesnt care about children. I dont. I refuse to believe he is unaffected by this. Hes a father. I bet he went to bed sick to his stomach last night. Its easy to call someone a monster. But hes not a monster he is a human being. And some people might not like hearing me say that, but its true, Kimmel said. So heres the thing I would like to say to Ted Cruz, the human being, and Governor Abbott, and everyone: Its okay to admit you made a mistake. In fact, its not just okay, its necessary to admit you made a mistake when your mistake is killing the children in your state.
He added, It takes a big person to do something like that. It takes a brave person to do something like that. And do I think these men are brave people? No, I dont. I dont. But man, I would love it if they surprised me.
But on Fox News, Cruz slammed what he called political posturing from Democrats like ORourke after the attack in Uvalde. He told host Jesse Watters that he wants schools to install bulletproof doors and bulletproof glass to help prevent shootings.
Have one door into and out of the school and have that one door, armed police officers at that door, Cruz argued. If that had happened, if those federal grants had gone to this school, when that psychopath arrived, the armed police officers could have taken him out and we would have 19 children and two teachers still alive.