'I don't apologize for thoughts or prayers' for shooting victims
In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cruz talked about the ways the United States could prevent shootings like the ones seen in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., that occurred almost one week apart. The Texas senator said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has a "long" and "indefensible" practice of not "prosecuting felons and fugitives" who try to illegally purchase firearms.
"...Going after criminals, locking them up — that's how we prevent these [shootings]. Now we will learn in the coming days and weeks the exact motivation of the murderers in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo," Cruz said.
"But we already know this pattern is predictable — over and over and over again. There are steps we can take to stop these crimes. And you know what the steps aren't? The steps aren't disarming law-abiding citizens."
Cruz also claimed that firearms are used in people's defense to protect their families.
“By the way, I don’t apologize for thoughts or prayers," he added. "I will lift up in prayer people who are hurting and I believe in the power of prayer and the contempt of Democrats for prayers is an odd sociological thing,” Cruz said.
“But I also agree thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. We need action."
Cruz’s comments came after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said earlier in the hearing on gun violence that politicians need to do more than offer thoughts and prayers.
“Prayer leaders have an important place in this. But we are Senate leaders. What are we doing? What are we doing other than reflecting and praying? That’s a good starting point. That shouldn’t be our endpoint,” Durbin said.
The comments were also aimed at Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) who said Republicans only give their thoughts and prayers after shootings.
Cruz reintroduced the Grassley-Cruz amendment on Tuesday that would prevent those with criminal backgrounds from getting guns by requiring agencies to have updated and accurate records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The hearing came after eight people were killed in the Atlanta area following a shooting spree at three massage parlors. The majority of the victims were Asian women.
On Monday, a gunman opened fire in a Boulder, Colo., supermarket, killing 10 people including a police officer. The suspect has been detained and charged with 10 counts of murder, according to a press conference held by law enforcement Tuesday.
The suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, allegedly attacked the grocery store just 10 days after Boulder's assault weapon's ban was blocked by a judge. The gun that was allegedly used by Alissa was purchased six days before the shooting took place, according to The Associated Press.
The exchange between Cruz and Democrats comes amid calls from President Biden on the Senate to pass House gun reform legislation that would expand background checks. Biden also called for the banning of assault-grade weapons in a speech Tuesday afternoon from the White House.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) accused Democrats of playing “ridiculous theater” by proposing universal background checks and other reforms following mass shootings, which he claimed would take “away guns from law-abiding citizens.”
The congressman argued that lawmakers should be working to prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals instead of targeting firearms.
“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz argued.
He then responded to earlier remarks from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who claimed that “thoughts and prayers are all we have heard from my colleagues on the other side” following mass shootings, rather than specific policy proposals to address gun violence.
“The senator from Connecticut knows that is false, and he knows that’s false, because Sen. [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] and I together introduced legislation … targeted at violent criminals, targeted at felons, targeted at fugitives, targeted at those with serious mental disease to stop them from getting firearms and put them in prison when they try to illegally buy guns.”
The Grassley-Cruz amendment, or the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act, was first proposed in 2013 and reintroduced in 2019.
It would require agencies to submit accurate records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in order to prevent people with criminal backgrounds from obtaining firearms.
“What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens, because that’s their political objective,” Cruz said on Tuesday.
“But what they propose, not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse,” he added.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the committee pushed for more stringent restrictions on firearms. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) pointed to the Boulder shooting in which 10 people were killed, including an officer responding to the attack, in calling for a ban on assault weapons.
Cruz later Tuesday morning faced scrutiny after he seemingly left the hearing to appear in an interview with Fox News’s Harris Faulkner.
Faulkner, instead of questioning Cruz on the gun violence hearing or the recent mass shootings, asked the GOP senator to comment on Vice President Harris recently letting out a laugh when responding to a reporter’s question on if she planned to visit the U.S.-Mexico border amid the ongoing surge in migrants.
Harris paused before responding, "Not today," and laughed with reporters. The vice president then added, "I have before and I'm sure I will again."
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