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Sen. Cruz: ‘Ensuring That People Can Effectively Access Their Firearms to Defend Themselves and Their Families is Critically Important’

Questions witnesses in Judiciary hearing on gun storage

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today participated in a hearing on safe gun storage. In the hearing, Sen. Cruz addressed the dangers of mandatory safe gun storage and emphasized the importance of individual responsibility rather than a criminal mandate. Excerpts of Sen. Cruz's opening remarks and his line of questioning are below.

WATCH: Sen. Cruz's Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Hearing on Safe Gun Storage

In his opening remarks, Sen. Cruz said, in part:

"Every responsible gun owner knows that safely storing their firearms is critical. Heidi and I store our firearms safely, and we expect that everyone with a firearm in their home should do the same. We also know that when firearms are not stored responsibly, there can be tragic consequences. Senator Blumenthal spoke about Ethan Song, a 15 year old boy who fatally shot himself by accident with a firearm that was stored at a friend's house. For all of us, our hearts goes out to the entire family, and Ms. Song, thank you for being here. Thank you for telling your son's story."


"All across the country, people rely on quick access to firearms in their homes to defend themselves. A 2013 report ordered by the Obama administration CDC stated that, ‘Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from 500,000 to more than three million.' We're not talking about one or two or a handful. This is the Obama administration estimating defensive uses of firearms, in other words, firearms used to prevent a crime occur somewhere between 500,000 and three million times a year. If our objective is to save lives, and I believe all of us want to save lives, ensuring that people can effectively access their firearms to defend themselves and their families is critically important, and sometimes the defensive use includes children defending themselves and defending their families.


"The bill that Senator Blumenthal has - I think it goes too far in terms of mandating a federal rule for everyone. For example, the bill would prevent a family with teenage children in a crime ridden neighborhood from choosing to keep a firearm somewhere where it could be quickly and easily accessed for self-defense, and it would empower the federal government to enforce that law coming into the family's home and potentially arresting the parents and seizing the firearms. Not only that, it would make it a federal crime for the children I mentioned earlier, the children who defended their homes and defended their families with a firearm to have access to the weapons that save them and their loved ones. I don't think that makes sense."


"I think there's a lot we can do as a voluntary matter. I think there's a lot we can do with education. I think there's a lot we can do encouraging the use of safe storage. I also think we have an overlay of civil liability laws that if you have individuals that are behaving irresponsibly, they face potentially enormous civil liability. But I don't believe a federal criminal mandate is the right approach to this issue."

In his line of questioning with Stephen Willeford, Sen. Cruz asked:

"We have gotten to know each other quite well since the horrific mass murder at southern Sutherland Springs. I spoke with you the day after that murder, and I would note, Mr. Willeford was at home minding his own business when the shooting started, and as he described, he ran and got his gun and he ran down the street barefoot, didn't put on his shoes. And he engaged with this mass murderer. He yelled out. The mass murderer fired at him repeatedly. He fired back, Mr. Willeford is an NRA rifle instructor, and even though the mass murderer was wearing body armor, Mr. Willeford struck him twice, which caused him to flee and stop murdering. In the case of this murderer, he murdered children, including infants. And Mr. Willeford then pursued the mass murderer in a truck driven by a passerby and directed the police to where he was and ultimately the mass murderer passed away from the injuries sustained in that gunfire. The heroism Mr. Willeford demonstrated that day was extraordinary. Mr. Willeford, I will never forget what you said that day when I told you that state law enforcement and federal law enforcement repeatedly said if you had not acted, not acted so quickly, that many, many more lives would have been lost that day."


"Having gone through that horrific Sunday morning, do you believe if you'd been able to access your firearm more readily and I would note you are trained, you're safe, you're a grown man, if you'd been able to access it more readily, do you believe? That more people would be alive today."

Mr. Willeford responded:

"Thank you, Senator Cruz, for asking me that question, because I truly believe there were 90 seconds, we timed it both ways and it was 90 seconds. And I need people to understand that I'm not advocating that no one keep their guns locked away. I think that the circumstances, your own personal circumstances will change the situations. My circumstances are I don't have any young children in my house, and when I do, they are away from the children and taken care of where they cannot get to them. And again, as I stated that if I would have been there 15 seconds earlier, Chris Workman would still be walking and carrying his seven year old daughter. And I don't even want to know who was shot before Chris, because in a minute and a half, that's an eternity, who else could I have saved on that day and that will forever haunt me."