Cruz receives a briefing before firing the MMP 15.
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Cruz receives a briefing before firing the MMP 15.
Cruz receives a briefing before firing the MMP 15.

(Johnston, IA) U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the media at a stop in Johnston, IA on Saturday that there is a difference between the shooting at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

Dylann Roof, age 21, shot and killed nine people at the historic black church during their prayer meeting on Wednesday.  Among the victims was State Senator Clementa Pickney (D-Charleston) who served as the church’s pastor.

Gun control advocates, including President Barack Obama, have taken the opportunity to call for more gun control in response to the mass murder.

“We should all come together and denounce the tragic shooting that occurred at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.  We should pray for the families who lost loved ones.  Look, I have to say as a Christian that the idea someone could come and sit down and pray for an hour in a church and then murder the people he was praying with – it is horrifying.  It is the face of evil, and we should be looking at this as an opportunity to bring people together and to pray for the families,” Cruz said.

“One of the incredible things yesterday (Friday) was to see the families of those who were murdered calling for forgiveness of the murderer.  What a powerful demonstration of Christian love.  I have to admit if it were my family I don’t know if I could demonstrate that degree of forgiveness, and it is a shame that there is some in politics who want to use this tragedy to divide us.  I think that is wrong,” Cruz added.  “I also think there is a qualitative between that and protecting the bill of rights, protecting the constitutional right to keep and bear arms of law abiding citizens which is altogether different and unconnected by a horrific murder committed by a sick and deranged individual.”

Cruz also stated that Dylann Roof was deserving of the death penalty.

Watch his press avail here or below:

Cruz stopped in Johnstone for a reelection campaign fundraiser for State Representative Ralph Watts (R-Adel) at CrossRoads Shooting Sports.  Watts is the state co-chair for Cruz’ presidential campaign in Iowa.

Cruz took a tour of the facility that houses two indoor firing ranges, a simulator room, class rooms and a gun store and pro shop.  He focused on the need to protect religious liberty and gun rights during his remarks before a group of approximately 6o people.

Watch Cruz remarks here or below:

Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) was also present at the event and spoke before Cruz. (Watch here or below)

Cruz also took two questions from the audience who were frustrated about the Republican leadership in Congress. (Watch here or below)

Before Cruz left the event he took the opportunity to fire 15 rounds from a Smith & Wesson MMP 15 (that uses .223 caliber rounds). (Watch here or below)

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