Editor’s note: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made the following remarks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. Read the lightly edited transcript, below, or watch the video above.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you to the witnesses who are here today. Last Friday, the Biden administration published proposed regulations to significantly expand the regulation of firearms in this country. That proposed regulation [and] this hearing both focus on so-called ghost guns. It’s a name that is intended to scare people. It’s designed to make people think that certain firearms are more dangerous than others, that certain firearms are beyond the reach of current law.
That’s nonsense. It’s simply not the case. The so-called ghost guns that we’re talking about are nothing but homemade firearms. There’s nothing special about them. There’s nothing weird about them. But advocates of aggressive gun control rely on ignorance to scare people. Homemade firearms aren’t any more dangerous than any other firearms.
And for all relevant purposes, homemade firearms are treated like any other firearm under the law. If a person commits a crime with a homemade gun, they will be prosecuted just the same as anyone else. If a felon makes a homemade gun, he’s a felon in possession of a firearm and will be prosecuted. If a person knowingly sells a homemade firearm to a criminal, that person has committed a crime and will be prosecuted.
Chairman [Richard] Blumenthal observed that, “We have no reliable metric as to any connection between crime and homemade firearms.” That’s another way of saying there are zero data, no evidence whatsoever, that this is contributing to crime at all. This is a made-up problem.
And yet here we are having a congressional hearing pretending that so-called ghost guns are a major issue. They aren’t, and I look forward to the next hearing of this subcommittee on Civil War replica cannons and how dangerous those are as well.
If we want to have a hearing on gun violence, there are real topics to discuss. Gun violence and violent crime is a real problem in this country. It’s not the made-up problem of ghost guns, but in 2020, gun violence soared to rates not seen in 20 years, with over 19,000 people killed by homicides and unintentional death, not including suicides.
Time magazine reported that gun violence surged in the city of Chicago in 2020 with shooting incidents increasing by over 50% and homicides by 55% when compared to 2019. [In] New York, the 2020 murder rates increased by 37.3%, and by 37.5% in Philadelphia compared to 2019 rates.
These cities, of course, all have things in common. They’re all run entirely by Democrats. They all have strict gun control measures that criminals don’t follow. Law-abiding citizens are disarmed, the criminals are not, and the deaths follows accordingly. And they’re also all epicenters of the Democrats’ radical push to defund the police.
This committee has confirmed one senior official at the Department of Justice who’s advocating defunding the police and this committee is preparing to move forward on a second senior official at the Department of Justice who’s advocating defunding the police.
If Democrats want to stop gun violence, let’s have a hearing on how the move to defund the police is causing more homicides. Let’s have a hearing on how gun control proposals are making people more vulnerable to violent crime and how they failed the big city Democrat cities. That actually would be a hearing focused on crime and stopping it and not instead [about] a made-up topic of ghost guns.
We already know that homemade guns are not a problem in terms of actually being involved in violent crime. When the Department of Justice surveyed criminals to ask how they obtained firearms used in crimes, not a single one appears to have said that he made his own weapon. Hear that again: The Department of Justice asked violent criminals where’d you get their guns: zero said it was a so-called ghost gun. Forty-three percent of criminals got their firearms from underground markets, 6% stole them, and 25% of them obtained them from an individual.
So, why are we talking about this made-up issue? It’s simple. Democrats don’t want to address the consistent, proven, empirical failure of gun control laws. They don’t work and they make crime worse.
But they also want to scapegoat law-abiding citizens. The hobbyist who make homemade guns who are not committing crimes—they want to scapegoat them. But the real issue is in something Chairman Blumenthal made several references to. He referred to these guns as untraceable, and that term was meant to be ominous. That’s what this is all about.
The Democrats on this committee want to trace every firearm in America. They want a registry of every firearm in America. They want a government list of what guns there are, who owns them, how many they own them.
And inevitably, when you see countries enact registries of firearms, the next step is confiscation. And numerous Democrats on this committee have advocated for confiscating firearms. At home, Heidi and I own firearms. There is no government list of the firearms we own and I’m very glad there’s no government list of the firearms we own. We have an amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment, that protects the right to keep and bear arms.
This hearing is not about some real threat that’s producing violent crime. There is zero data to back up that this made-up phantom of ghost guns poses a real threat.
Chairman Blumenthal wants to target violent crime. I would encourage him to join Sen. [Chuck] Grassley and me in the Grassley-Cruz legislation that I introduced nine years ago targeting violent criminals, going after them, improving the background check system, improving the database, prosecuting felons and fugitives who lie trying to illegally buy a firearm.
And I would note that when Grassley-Cruz was voted on on the Senate floor in 2013 in a Democratic Senate, it got 52 votes on the Senate floor. It got nine Democrats who voted in favor of it—the most bipartisan support of any of the comprehensive legislation
And the reason Grassley-Cruz didn’t pass is Senate Democrats, including all three of the senators on the Democratic side of the aisle here today, voted against it and filibustered it, blocked it. Blocked real legislation targeting violent crime. Why? Because the objective instead is to target law-abiding citizens. That does nothing to stop crime, but it does a great deal to undermine our constitutional rights.
I will note, finally, that as Chairman Blumenthal observed, there’s a rules committee markup on legislation, S 1 legislation, many of us are referring to as the “Corrupt Politicians Act.” I’m going to spend the rest of the day in that Rules Committee markup introducing and pressing a number of amendments. So unfortunately I’m not going to be able to be here as ranking member. Sen. [Mike] Lee has very graciously agreed to participate in the hearing in my stead while I’m in the Rules Committee hearing. Thank you.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal: Before you leave, Sen. Cruz, I might just take this occasion to correct a couple of misrepresentations in what you just said. First of all, so far as I know, no member of this committee and members of the Senate on this side of the aisle are in favor of defunding the police. That is a massive distortion.
Second, my comment about metrics was about sales. There are no reliable metrics on sale. There are clear metrics that link ghost guns to crime, and that is the point. On traceability, yes. You’ll hear from law enforcement, or you would if you stayed, about the importance of tracing guns involved in crimes in solving crimes and putting criminals behind bars.
Nobody on this committee on this side of the aisle wants to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens. And as you well know, there happens to be an amendment in the Constitution that would, under the present Supreme Court interpretation, forbid it. I’m going to ask my Democratic colleague—
Cruz: Sen. Blumenthal, if I could briefly ask a question. You just said a moment ago that no Democrat favors abolishing the police. If that were the case, why did every single Democrat vote to confirm Vanita Gupta, a nominee for the No. 3 position at the Department of Justice, who said last year in writing, in written testimony before this Senate, advocated abolishing the police. And she was confirmed by one vote. Every single Democrat was the necessary vote to confirm a radical who advocated abolishing the police.
And just this week, we’re taking up Kristen Clarke, another radical who has last year in testimony before the Senate advocated abolishing the police. If you don’t support abolishing the police, why do you keep voting for nominees who advocate abolishing the police?
Blumenthal: As you well know, Sen. Cruz, that is a complete distortion of their positions. We’re not here to talk about those nominees. If you want to stay, we can do it at the end of the hearing, but right now we’re going to move on.
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