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‘Only in America’: The good question Ted Cruz walked away from

“I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem," a reporter asked Ted Cruz. "Why is this an American problem?”


In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Sen. Ted Cruz has done a fair number of interviews, though as USA Today noted, there was one question the Texas Republican clearly didn’t like.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walked away from an interview after a reporter asked him why some mass shootings happen “only in America,” in the wake of the shooting at a Texas elementary school this week.

If you haven’t seen the video of the exchange, it’s only a minute and a half, and it’s worth checking out. Mark Stone, a reporter for Sky News, which is a British media outlet, told the senator that many around the world “cannot fathom” why these massacres occur “only in America.”

As the Texas Republican ended the interview, Stone asked, “I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem. Why is this an American problem?” A visibly angry Cruz eventually turned around and told Stone to “stop being a propogandist.”

In fairness, it’s worth emphasizing that there are other countries that struggle with deadly gun violence. Yemen and El Salvador, for example, also struggle with the issue.

But among democracies with large economies, the United States has earned a reputation as a global outlier — and the Sky News reporter who pressed Cruz with good questions isn’t the only international observer struggling to understand such an incomprehensible dynamic. NBC News reported this week:

Alongside the horror and condolences, there was a familiar sense of bewilderment from around the world: How can the richest superpower continue to tolerate mass shootings — school shootings, even — on a scale that dwarfs any other country? Tuesday’s elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, was viewed internationally as just the latest in a long list of domestic American bloodshed that from the outside is increasingly hard to fathom.

The report added that China has been only too pleased to take advantage of the tragedies: Officials in Beijing “used the incident to bolster its narrative that the U.S. is a superpower in decline.”

In theory, this should give American policymakers new incentives to save lives and show the world that the United States remains a global superpower worthy of respect and emulation. In practice, Republican opposition to popular reforms has been unshakable in recent years, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Just as notable is the fact that other countries — democracies with large economies — used to have problems with brutal mass shootings. Then they imposed restrictions on guns, at which point their societies became vastly safer.

That, of course, only adds fuel to the questions Cruz was reluctant to address: If these countries saved lives by getting guns under control, why can’t the United States do the same thing?

It’s not surprising that Cruz was uncomfortable with this line of inquiry, but that question still deserves an answer.