The Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz confronted a British reporter and angrily left an interview after he was asked why school shootings like that in Uvalde, where 19 children and two adults were killed, happen so often in the US.
“I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful,” Cruz said. “You’ve got your political agenda. God love you.”
On Thursday, the news site Axios published a list of the leading recipients of gun lobby donations in the current Congress.
Cruz was clear at the top, with $442,000 donated to campaign organisations or political action committees.
Axios noted: “The figures are much higher if you count indirect contributions, like the NRA’s purchase of attack ads against opponents.”
On Tuesday morning in Uvalde, an 18-year-old shot his grandmother then entered Robb elementary school and barricaded himself in a classroom.
After about 40 minutes, during which parents implored police to charge and tackle the gunman, the assailant was killed by a Swat team.
On Wednesday Cruz spoke to Mark Stone, US correspondent for Sky News, at a vigil in Uvalde.
“There are 19 sets of parents who are never gonna get to kiss their child goodnight,” Cruz said.
Stone asked: “Is this the moment to reform gun laws?”
Cruz said: “You know, it’s easy to go to politics.”
“But it’s important,” Stone said. “It’s at the heart of the issue.”
“I get that that’s where the media likes to go,” Cruz said.
Stone said many people at the vigil wanted gun reform. National polling consistently shows large majorities in support of such reform.
Cruz said reform proposals came from “Democrats and the media, inevitably, when some violent psychopath murders people”.
Stone pointed out that the 18-year-old gunman in Uvalde was a “violent psychopath who’s able to get a weapon so easily … two AR-15” assault rifles.
Cruz said: “If you want to stop violent crime, the proposals the Democrats have, none of them would have stopped this.”
Stone said: “Many people around the world just cannot fathom, ‘Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?’”
Cruz said: “You know, I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful.”
Stone said he thought “this aspect of it” was awful.
“You’ve got your political agenda,” Cruz said, putting his hands on the reporter’s shoulders, saying “God love you” and walking away.
Stone and another reporter pursued, asking, “I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem in America” and “Why is America the only country that makes this kind of mass shooting?”
Stone said: “You can’t answer that, can you, sir?”
Cruz turned. Leaning close to the reporter and jabbing his finger, he said: “Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because it’s the freest, most prosperous, safest country on earth.
“And save me the propaganda.”