By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — The U.S. cannot respond to evil by abandoning the Constitution, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz says.
After a teenager shot and killed two teachers and 19 children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, calls have been made to ban certain types of weapons, including the AR-15 rifle, and impose stricter gun control measures.
Sen. Cruz, R-Texas, spoke over the weekend at a long-planned annual NRA conference in Houston, which was protested by apparent supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, among others. Mr. O’Rourke ran against Cruz for Senate and lost. Now running against Gov. Greg Abbott, Mr. O’Rourke last week blamed Gov. Abbott and Republicans in the state legislature for the shooting. He also called on Gov. Abbott not to attend the NRA conference. Gov. Abbott, who was slated to speak in person, remained in Uvalde.
Video was published on social media of people wearing “Beto” T-shirts standing outside the convention center screaming at attendees as they entered the event and at law enforcement staffing the event.
But Sen. Cruz held fast in defense of the Second Amendment, which protects the right of citizens to bear arms.
“We must not react to evil and tragedy by abandoning the constitution or infringing on the rights of our law-abiding citizens,” Sen. Cruz said in his speech. “Now is not the time to yield to panic or intimidation or fear. Now is not the time for lies. It is not the time for empty political gestures. Now is the time for unity.
“Now is the time for love. And now is the time for action to protect our rights to stop those with evil in their hearts and to do everything humanly possible to protect our children and to protect our families.”
He also pointed out that it was law-abiding citizens who stopped deranged shooters.
“It is the law-abiding patriots here like Stephen Willeford who over and over and over again step up and risk their lives to stop these depraved lunatics,” he said.
In 2017, then 55-year-old plumber and experienced rifleman Willeford helped to stop a gunman after he killed 26 people inside of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Living across the street from the church, he heard the shots, loaded his magazine and ran outside, not even putting his shoes on. When he saw the gunman, he exchanged fire and shot him.
“I know I hit him,” Mr. Willeford told 40/29 News TV. “He got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window. When the window dropped, I fired another round at him again.”
The gunman then drove away.
Mr. Willeford ran to a driver of a pickup truck who was stopped at a stop sign and asked the driver to help.
“That guy just shot up the Baptist church. We need to stop him,” Mr. Willeford told the driver. Another gun owner also jumped into the truck, and the three pursued the gunman in a chase that reached up to 90 mph. The gunman eventually lost control of his vehicle and crashed. When they arrived, the gunman was already dead. Police arrived on the scene roughly five minutes later.
In response to those protesting the NRA event, Sen. Cruz told the audience, “The media wanted all of us to stay away.
“But you are not the cause of this evil. Instead, you are fighting to defend the bill of rights. To keep people safer in their homes and on the subway to protect our families. You are the veterans, the law enforcement members, the courageous men and women who rise to defend your fellow neighbors.”