Texas Senator Ted Cruz storms off over questions about gun reform after school shooting

As the sun went down in this small Texan town, the community came together.

In their hundreds, they gathered at the showground on the edge of Uvalde.

A place where families would normally come together for the rodeo was now hosting unimaginable grief.

So often towns like this are said to be tight-knit, but you can feel it here. So many know someone now in so much pain.

People mourn the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas
Image:People mourn the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas

As a violinist played Amazing Grace, this was a moment for prayer; to reflect on such horror, but never to comprehend it.

Beyond the hugs though, how can anyone explain to dads like Steven Garcia why his daughter Ellie is gone?

We watched as he walked into the auditorium. One after another, his friends embraced him.

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Ellie was in fourth grade. A nine-year-old with her life ahead. The second eldest of five girls. A cheerleader and promising basketball player. Her teachers had inspired her to become one too. They died with her in the classroom.

And yet even here, even after something like this, the political divide over guns is so stark.

Image:Mourners gathered at the showground on the edge of Uvalde

Among the mourners, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, and his ally in the senate, Ted Cruz; Republican politicians who block all Democratic Party attempts to change gun laws.

The pair are not unwelcome, so deep is the second amendment ideology here.

“There are 19 sets of parents who are never going to get to kiss their child tonight…” Senator Cruz told me.

I asked if this was the moment to reform gun laws.

Senator Ted Cruz
Image:Senator Ted Cruz gives an interview to Sky’s Mark Stone

“You know, it’s easy to go to politics,” he said.

“The proposals from Democrats and the media? Inevitably, when some violent psychopath murders people… if you want to stop violent crime, the proposals the Democrats have? None of them would have stopped this,” he claimed.

But why, I asked him, does this only happen in America? Between 2009 and 2018 there were 288 school shootings in the US, the next highest number was in Mexico where there were eight.

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Mark Stone asks Ted Cruz about gun reform laws
Image:Things get heated after Mark Stone (L) asks Ted Cruz why American exceptionalism is ‘so awful’

“Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?” I asked.

“You know, I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful. You’ve got your political agenda. God love you…” he replied.

“Senator, I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem. It’s just an American problem,” I said.

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How the Texas school shooting unfolded

He turned to walk off.

“You can’t answer that, can you?” I said.

Read more:Victims from Texas school shooting

Ted Cruz
Image:Ted Cruz claims America is the ‘safest country on Earth’

He turned: “Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because it’s the freest, most prosperous, safest country on Earth. Stop being a propagandist.”

If that wasn’t blunt enough, the governor’s earlier news conference was as clear an example as any of this gulf in American society.

Governor Abbott didn’t mention gun laws. He blamed the massacre only on the mental health of a crazed individual.

And as he spoke, he was heckled by Beto O’Rourke, his democratic rival. It was a moment of twisted clarity – where there is no common ground, no compromise.

And so the people of Uvalde left the vigil in their town that will now always be remembered for one thing, until the next one.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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