From former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the parents of the gunned down children in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control advocates have been putting pressure on lawmakers and businesses this week to curb firearms. But even in the face of a string of gun-related homicides, freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has staked out a position in staunch support of gun rights.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on gun control, Cruz pressed Baltimore Police Chief Jim Johnson to prove why stricter gun control would lead to fewer homicides.
“What empirical data supports your contention that restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms would decrease crime rather than making people more vulnerable to violent criminals, which is what I would suggest the data indicates has happened when it’s been done?” asked Sen. Cruz.
Cruz pointed out that while Baltimore suffers from a murder rate of 31.1 murders per 100,000 people, cities in Texas like Austin and Houston have a lower rate with more lenient gun control. Johnson responded that restrictions vary by state and guns can flow in unchecked across borders.
Earlier this week, Cruz penned a letter to gun makers and their banks encouraging them to bring their business to Texas after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged Bank of America and TD Bank Group to cut off financial support for major gun manufacturers.
Cruz’s pro-gun-rights campaign comes in a week of major incidents involving firearms. During the Senate hearing on adopting gun control laws, a Phoenix man opened fire in a legal office, killing one and wounding two. He was found dead this morning due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
An Alabama gunman continues to hold a 5-year-old boy hostage in a bunker after killing a school bus driver.
A young Colombian man was shot and killed after he accidentally entered a Georgia man’s driveway.
On Tuesday, a shooting in Chicago took the life of a 15-year-old girl who performed in the Washington, D.C. inaugural parade.
Cruz is championing conservative values even while some of his fellow Republicans edge closer to the center. On Tuesday, the Senator spoke out against an immigration reform proposal mapped out by a bipartisan group of Senators including Marco Rubio and John McCain. The same day, the Cuban-American junior senator submitted a bill to repeal Obamacare.
Lawmakers seem prepared to take on the divisive issue of gun control even though the country is very much split, with only a slim majority supporting tougher laws. Cruz’s push for conservatism may win out in the short run but the coming months and years will tell if his bet pays off.