Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), after having been a senator for three weeks, made his second "Meet the Press" appearance yesterday, and was asked whether there are any regulations and/or restrictions on gun rights that he could support. The Republican said background checks to "prevent felons and those with serious mental illnesses from acquiring" firearms "make perfect sense."
So, is Cruz on board with a universal background check system? Well, it's complicated.
Though Cruz supports licensed firearm dealers running background checks as part of existing law, host David Gregory noted that 40% of gun sales don't involve licensed firearm dealers -- this includes firearms purchased at gun shows. Cruz disputed the statistic, adding, "You know, there actually isn't the so-called gun show loophole. That doesn't exist."
And why not? Because as Cruz sees it, licensed firearm dealers are the ones conducting sales at gun shows, and these dealers already follow the law on background checks, so there's no problem. Except, the senator is confused -- as we've seen over and over again, background checks aren't conducted at gun shows, and the loophole does exist.
Cruz can't have it both ways. He can't say he supports background checks in the interest of keeping weapons out of the hands of felons and the mentally unstable, while also saying he supports a system in which felons and the mentally unstable can get guns without background checks from private sellers.
On a related note, Cruz raised another argument that suggests he doesn't quite understand the nature of the policy debate.
"[Y]ou have a lot of people that are worried about preserving the safety of their own home. If you're talking to a single woman living in Anacostia, who has the misfortune to live next to a crack house, to hell her she doesn't have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, I think is fundamentally wrong."
Here's the follow-up question I have for Cruz: who's arguing that a single woman living in Anacostia can't legally purchase a firearm? As best as I can tell, no one. Maybe she shouldn't have access to an assault weapons intended for a military battlefield, and maybe she doesn't need a high-capacity magazine, but the policy argument is not about whether Americans can have a firearm in their home. That debate has already been settled.
And given this, I can't help but wonder if Cruz either doesn't understand the nature of the conversation or if he's trying to mislead the public with smoke-screen arguments that don't make any sense.