Elected to the United States Senate in 2012, Ted Cruz currently represents the Great State of Texas. While one can never fully believe a politician unless their lips aren’t moving, Cruz is arguably the most pro-gun rights Republican presidential candidate we’ve looked at thus far in this series (read our articles on Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson to get perspective on some of the others).
Let’s take a look at the details—then you can make your own decision.
What he says
When it comes to official and written policy statements, Cruz is direct about his positions on gun rights. He’s even published a dedicated Second Amendment flyer with which he highlights his positions. Leading off that piece is a quote from Tim Macy, Chairman of Gun Owners of America (GOA).
“Gun Owners of America is proud to endorse Senator Ted Cruz for the office of President of the United States. Cruz has been a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights as a U.S. Senator, and he will continue to defend our gun rights from the Oval Office.”
As GOA has a pretty solid “no compromise” approach when it comes to the defense of gun rights, this is a ringing endorsement.
He also had a pivotal role in the critically important District of Columbia v. Heller case, submitting a pro-Second Amendment amicus brief on behalf of 31 different states in favor of the Heller argument. To be fair, he’s taken some heat over some of the specific content of that brief. Without getting entirely into the deep end of the pool, some arguments therein stated that states would and should have regulation rights on certain types of weapons like the bans then in place in states like New York, California, and Connecticut. Since that time, his public position has been the opposite. Why? Most observers believe that he was making arguments on behalf of his clients (31 states) to serve the best overall interest of that specific case. When speaking personally, he’s not limited to the “speaking on behalf of clients” issue. Legal and political issues are never cut and dry.
Regardless, the NRA seemed happy about his role in Heller. Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, also makes an appearance in Cruz’s campaign materials. “Ted Cruz is one of our nation’s leading defenders of the Second Amendment. For over a decade, Ted has fought tirelessly to defend our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and his leadership was absolutely critical to our major victories before the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Later, in September 2013, Cruz joined 49 other Senators and authored a letter to President Obama indicating some serious displeasure with his stated plans to move toward the adoption of a treaty with the United Nations seeking to bind the United States to international gun control efforts. No matter that only the Senate has the authority to authorize treaties and that the proposed terms were in direct violation to the Constitution of the United States.
Dear President Obama:
We write to express our concern and regret at your decision to sign the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. For the following reasons, we cannot give our advice and consent to this treaty:
The treaty violates a 2009 red line laid down by your own administration: “the rule of consensus decision-making.” In April 2013, after the treaty failed to achieve consensus, it was adopted by majority vote in the UN General Assembly.
The treaty allows amendments by a 3/4 majority vote. When amended, it will become a source of political and legal pressure on the US to comply in practice with amendments it was unwilling to accept.
The treaty includes only a weak, non-binding reference to the lawful ownership and use of firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. It encourages governments to collect the identities of individual end users of imported firearms at the national level, which would constitute the core of a national gun registry.
The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is “ambiguous.” By becoming party to the treaty, the US would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear.
The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They will steadily subject the US to the influence of internationally-defined norms, a process that would impinge on our national sovereignty.
The treaty criteria as established could hinder the US in fulfilling its strategic, legal, and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as Taiwan and Israel.
We urge you to notify the treaty depository that the US does not intend to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, and is therefore not bound by its obligations. As members of the Senate, we pledge to oppose the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the US as bound to uphold its object and purpose.
Earlier this month, Cruz voted “nay” against two Senate bills regarding expanded background checks and closing the “terrorist loophole.” In neither case did Cruz have to step far out of the mainstream. Launched by Senators Manchin, Kirk, and Toomey. The bill would have required background checks and waiting periods on “gun show” sales and was largely symbolic. This is really an issue over the legality of the private sale of property and criminals don’t acquire guns at gun shows anyway. The second was the “no fly, no gun” effort launched by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Intended to deny gun rights to anyone the government decides to put on a secret “suspect” list, this bill angered plenty on both sides of the issue for its flagrant disregard of that pesky little gem we call due process. It’s not often that the NRA and ACLU get upset about the exact same thing. If something like this ever passes on any topic, guns or otherwise, hold on to your shorts and hope that your preferred party stays in charge, else you might find yourself on a secret list.
How he’s voted
Having been in the Senate a few years, Cruz has not only voted, but sponsored his own bills on the topic, so let’s take a look at those first.
In March 2013, he introduced S 729 and S 730, both of which were related to investigation and prosecution of felons and fugitives who illegally purchase firearms through straw purchases and black market activity. Senators Cruz and Grassley also teamed up to reduce restrictions and interstate transfer and sale of firearms. This bill also would have allowed military members to purchase firearms in states where they are stationed, regardless of their state of permanent residence.
The rest of 2013 was a busy year for Candidate Ted. He also was the second to jump on board Senator Rand Paul’s plan to filibuster gun control efforts launched by Harry Reid. “We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three conservatives wrote in a copy of the signed letter obtained by POLITICO. The filibuster team ultimately grew to 12 Senators.
Our best guess
Cruz has always been up front and vocal about his support of all constitutional issues, and when you boil out all the rhetoric and hand-wringing, gun rights are, in fact, a pure constitutional discussion. In my view, that adds some backbone to his subject matter talk when it comes to guns, at least more than the other political lemmings that make vague statements like “Sure, I support the Second Amendment…”
He talks the talk, but do you think he walks the walk?
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon.
Featured image created using Ted Cruz image by Gage Skidmore on the Wikimedia Commons and gun shop wall image from Michael Saechang on flickr