(HOUSTON) — Sen. Ted Cruz challenged Vice President Joe Biden Friday afternoon to join him in a debate over solutions to violence in the United States.
“If he believes the answer to violent crime is not prosecuting felons and fugitives, not prosecuting gun crimes but going after the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens, I would like to invite the vice president to engage in an hour-long conversation and debate,” Cruz, R-Texas, a Tea Party favorite, told an enthusiastic audience at the National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum in Houston. “How do we stop crime?”
Cruz criticized Democrats, including the president and vice president, for backing gun control legislation that included universal background checks, limits on magazine capacities and a ban on assault weapons, calling its defeat in the Senate “the victory of the American people.”
“If you are a violent criminal, we should come down on you like a ton of bricks,” Cruz said. “And at the same time, we should safeguard the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Cruz mocked the vice president for advice that he gave at an online town hall that someone faced with an intruder should go outside and “fire two blasts” with a double-barrel shotgun.
Cruz said that advice “is very useful if it so happens you’re being attacked by a flock of geese.”
He drew loud applause and a standing ovation when he brought up a letter he sent along with Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, saying that they would block “any legislation that undermines the Bill of Rights or the Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
Before the vote that killed the Obama administration’s package of gun control bills, Vice President Biden had slammed Cruz, Paul and Lee for their filibuster threats, calling it “almost mind-boggling.”
“They’re saying we’re not even going to talk about this, a tragedy that traumatized the nation and caught the attention of the entire world,” Biden said, just hours after meeting with families of the victims of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. “And after all the thinking and the debate and the discussion, with overwhelming majority of the American people thinking that the proposals the president put forward make absolute sense, the climax of this tragedy could be we’re not even going to get a vote?”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Stephen Collinson, Jeremy Diamond and Karl de Vries, CNN
Mike Price, BYU-Idaho Scroll
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN