Ted Cruz heckled a sushi restaurant over the response to the Uvalde shooting, the NRA and gun control

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was heckled at a Houston restaurant on Friday night, following his speech at the National Rifle Association convention, in which he broadly rejected gun control proposals , a few days after the shooting at the school of Uvalde.

A video shared on social media shows Cruz standing stoically at Uptown Sushi in Houston as a man challenges him to support background checks on gun sales, which the senator and many of his fellow Republicans do. have rejected.

“Why did you come here to the convention?” the man, later identified as Benjamin Hernandez, asked Cruz. “Why? When 19 children died!

As Hernandez was led away by security guards, he said to Cruz, “It’s in your hands! It’s in your hands, Ted Cruz! It’s in your hands!

Cruz waved her goodbye before joining his family at their table.

Neither Cruz’s office nor the owners of Uptown Sushi immediately responded to requests for comment early Saturday.

Hernandez told the Washington Post that he approached Cruz because he hoped the senator would voice his opposition to bills requiring background checks on gun sales, which remain unlikely to pass in the Senate. .

“I wanted him to give me an answer on something as simple and basic as background checks,” said Hernandez, 39, a board member of Indivisible Houston, a liberal pro-democracy group. which aims to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. “But it was like he was deflecting the responsibility of being a US senator.”

Hours earlier, Cruz took the stage at the NRA’s annual meeting in Houston, where he joined former President Donald Trump in rejecting proposals for new restrictions and instead calling for more school safety checks. or sanity, while issuing dire warnings of alleged Democratic plots to take up arms.

“The elites who dominate our culture tell us that guns are the root of the problem,” Cruz said in his address to the crowd on Friday. “It is much easier to slander political opponents and demand that responsible citizens lose their constitutional rights than to examine cultural disease, giving birth to unspeakable acts of evil.”

Trump and Cruz join NRA leaders in defiant response to Uvalde shooting

While several artists and GOP lawmakers walked away from NRA events after the Robb Elementary School massacre, Republicans who kept their speaking slots at the annual rally were defiant, despite mounting public pressure. Protesters gathered outside the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center, about 300 miles from Uvalde, to demand gun control and responses from authorities.

In his remarks, Cruz said the shooting was “every parent’s ultimate nightmare” and accused Democrats of seeking to use the massacre as a pretext to “disarm Americans.”

He also suggested schools should have a single door guarded by armed police or trained military veterans – a plan that would seem likely to breach fire safety laws requiring more than one exit into buildings. Cruz also called for bulletproof doors and locked classroom doors.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s response to the shooting at a school under review

The remarks came the same day the Texas Department of Public Safety acknowledged that police made the calamitous choice on Tuesday not to pursue gunman Salvador Ramos in a classroom where students were trapped. The officers waited outside in a hallway while panicked children inside repeatedly called 911 for help, authorities said. Officials say Ramos emerged from a classroom closet while shooting at Border Patrol tactical agents entering the room.

Police made ‘wrong decision’ not to prosecute Uvalde shooter, official says

Funeral preparations are underway for the 21 people killed by 18-year-old Ramos in the attack.

Officials have faced growing outrage over their handling of the tragedy, particularly after revelations that relatives had pleaded with police outside to come in and confront the shooter earlier, to then be prevented from entering themselves.

Gun advocacy groups have given Cruz’s campaigns or political action committees more than $442,000 during his career, the most of any lawmaker between 1989 and 2020, Election Commission data shows. of 2021 cited by the non-profit organization OpenSecrets.

Earlier in the week, Cruz ran away from an interview after a British reporter asked him why mass shootings happen “only in America.” Cruz, who attended a vigil in Uvalde and greeted and hugged residents and family members of the victims, clashed with Sky News’ Mark Stone when he asked: ‘Why isn’t this happening? only in your country? … Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so horrible?

“You know, I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful,” Cruz retorted. “You have your political agenda. God loves you.”

Cruz Walks Away After Being Asked Why Mass Shootings Happen “Only In America”

This is far from the first time the Texas senator has been heckled in public.

In 2018, Cruz and his wife, Heidi, were shouted out of a Washington restaurant by members of a protest group opposing his support for the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court – a process confirmation that was cut short by allegations that he sexually assaulted one woman and engaged in sexual misconduct with another as a teenager.

After Cruz traveled to Cancun, Mexico in February 2021 when millions of Texas residents were without power or drinking water in freezing temperatures, the senator was heckled by rapper Bun B during a Houston Astros playoff game.

“Where are you going?” Bun B asked. “To Cancun? »

On Friday night, Hernandez began asking for a photo with Cruz, who was having dinner with his family at Uptown Sushi, according to the video. After the photo was taken, Hernandez turned to Cruz and asked him what he could do to persuade the senator to support gun control laws in the United States. When Cruz advised him to watch his speech at the NRA convention, Hernandez was not satisfied.

“Why can’t you support tougher gun laws in this country?” Hernandez asked.

Cruz, who looked into the camera phone and realized it was being recorded, again argued that his school safety bill would have helped prevent shootings in schools. schools like that of Uvalde. As Hernandez came to life, a security official came between him and Cruz.

“You combine ignorance and hate,” Cruz told her, according to the video. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The situation became tense, Cruz raising his voice by arguing that “my bill” would have stopped the filming, shows the video. Seconds later, Hernandez was dragged away by several people as he repeated his same question about the mass shootings: “Why is this going on?”

Knowing he was likely to be kicked out of the restaurant — which he was — Hernandez said he paid the bill for himself and his wife in advance.

“I left a big tip for the waiter,” he said, acknowledging the grief it likely caused the restaurant.

Hernandez said he felt bad for the families of the victims in Uvalde and what they had to go through in recent days. He argued that he was doing his part in supporting them by confronting the Republican senator on what could be done to prevent the next Uvalde.

“Everything we did didn’t work,” he said. “It can be uncomfortable and difficult to do, but it’s something we have to do – we have to ask the hard questions.”

Isaac Arnsdorf contributed to this report.


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