AP Profiles Ted Cruz's Gun Views, Ignores Link To Extremist Gun Group

An Associated Press profile of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's history of firearm ownership and views on firearm regulation failed to mention that Cruz is closely associated with Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that was once linked to white supremacists and whose leader has repeatedly said pro-gun safety politicians should fear being shot.

The Associated Press chronicled Cruz's history with guns in a January 19 article that noted “Cruz has made the defense of Second Amendment rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaign,” but also raised questions about his bona fides as an anti-gun regulation absolutist, characterizing a legal brief filed by Cruz in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case as “nuanced” because it accepted that prohibitions on felons owning firearms, and some other restrictions on gun ownership, are constitutional. 

(The AP article glossed over Cruz's record in the Senate, failing to mention that he has repeatedly credited himself as the driving force behind defeating overwhelmingly popular legislation in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks on gun sales following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.)

The article also noted that the first written reference to Cruz owning a gun occurred in 2003 and that Cruz's first hunting license on record was issued in 2006, suggesting that Cruz's “passion for the issue emerged relatively recently in his life, coinciding with his ascent in Republican circles in Texas.”

The article devoted a great deal of space to establishing whether Cruz is or is not a devoted hunter, garnering comments from a campaign spokeswoman, but failed to mention Cruz's relationship with GOA, only noting support from the National Rifle Association on his campaign website. Cruz has significant ties to GOA, a gun rights group that is widely considered to be to the right of even the NRA, and which has called for the abolishment of all background checks on gun sales.

During a May 2015 GOA “Tele-Town Hall” event, Cruz -- the only Republican presidential candidate to participate -- said GOA was “critical” to his election as a U.S.Senator and said “one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels.” GOA in turn endorsed Cruz in September 2015 in a statement filled with conspiratorial and anti-immigrant undertones. Cruz has touted GOA during GOP debates, stating that he is “honored” to be endorsed by the group.

It is hard to overstate the extremism of GOA head Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter, has claimed the Second Amendment was “designed” for people like President Obama, has supported putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and has warned the federal government that “we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically.”

Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories that suggest the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government to build support for more gun regulation, and has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war.

Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported he “had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements” during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a “contributing editor” to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist “tabloid” published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated “tens of thousands of dollars” to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.