An activist confronted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a Houston restaurant on Friday night in a testy exchange after the lawmaker delivered a speech at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention blaming violent video games, social media and other factors besides guns for mass shootings in the U.S.
The activist appears at first to get into a civil debate with Cruz about expanding background checks and reducing the number of firearms in America, according to a video shared by Indivisible Houston, a liberal political advocacy organization.
After the activist, later identified as Indivisible Houston board member Benjamin Hernandez, gets louder as he addresses his points, a security guard intervenes and separates the man from Cruz.
“It is harder when there are more guns to stop gun violence,” Hernandez says from behind the arms of the guard. “It is not ignorance. We are in this country, and there are guns everywhere. … Why is it so hard?”
More security arrives while the man screams, “Nineteen children died!” and “That’s on your hands, Ted Cruz!”
The incident comes days after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where authorities say a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School with a semi-automatic rifle similar to an AR-15.
Republicans, including Cruz, have decried the shooting but have largely stuck to talking points about tackling mental health and other societal factors rather than reducing the amount of guns in the nation, which exceeds the amount of people living in the country.
On Friday, Cruz appeared at the NRA rally in Houston, just 300 miles from Uvalde, and said that “what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.”
Hundreds rallied at the NRA convention, with many gun control activists calling for the weekend’s events, which also included a speech from former President Trump, to be called off after the Texas shooting.
Gun control activists say they want what they describe as commonsense reforms such as universal background checks, expanded red flag laws, and limits or bans on assault rifles and semiautomatic rifles.
Another video on YouTube shows Hernandez approaching Cruz initially to take a picture with the senator before engaging him in a debate, starting with a plea for background checks.
“What about background checks?” he asks.
“You don’t want to listen,” Cruz says before explaining that laws proposed by Democrats would not stop the shootings.
“We can make it harder for people to get guns,” Hernandez responds.