Gun rights, school safety take center stage at Texas Tribune Festival

Gun rights and school safety in the wake of Uvalde were front and center at the Texas Tribune Festival in downtown Austin.

Today's discussions highlighted the deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans on how best to tackle gun violence four months to the day since 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke sat down for one-on-one interviews at the festival and discussed many topics, including gun safety. While they have differing opinions on policy, they both agreed something needs to change. 

Respondents in a recent University of Texas and Texas Politics Project poll agree, saying Texas' elected officials have done too little to prevent mass shootings in the Lone Star State.

"The best time to stop the next school shooting is right now," said O'Rourke.


"I emphatically agree that we need to do more to stop them, the question is, what actually would stop them?" asked Cruz, who says the answer is not taking away guns completely. "Whenever you have a mass murder, the political debate, you have Democrats in Washington, the step they immediately go to is we need to take away firearms from law-abiding citizens."

After the audience applauded that, Cruz said "Okay, you can clap for that except for the minor problem that it doesn't work."

He says firearms can be used criminally, but also defensively. An audience member then called out "Violence doesn't solve crime," to which Cruz replied "It actually is the only thing that does."

He says if you want to stop crime, "you target the bad guys, you target the criminals, the felons, the fugitives, you prosecute them, you put them in jail, you get them off the street, and you also introduce security at vulnerable targets."

O'Rourke says for changes to be made, both parties are going to have to find common ground. "I won't be able to get my vision of perfection accomplished, but I can do something better than what we have today."

"Republicans, non-gun owners, Democrats, gun owners alike, can agree on raising the age of purchase, on a red flag law so we can intervene before it's too late, and on a universal background check that just simply says if you're going to buy a gun in Texas, we're cool with that, we just want to make sure you're not going to be a danger to yourself or to anyone else."