Gun Control Activist Who Confronted Ted Cruz Sets Sights on Abbott

An activist who confronted Sen. Ted Cruz in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is demanding action from other Texas officials, including Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

Benjamin Hernandez made headlines on Friday when a video of him confronting Cruz at a restaurant in Houston went viral. Cruz, a Texas Republican known for his opposition to gun reform, had spoken earlier that day at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention where he doubled down on his support for the Second Amendment and avoided blaming firearms for frequent gun violence in the U.S.

Feeling frustrated and disheartened after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School days earlier, Hernandez told Newsweek that he felt obligated to stand up and question Cruz about his pro-gun stance.

"To me it was fate," Hernandez said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I'm sitting at dinner and Cruz walks in...it's not even a question. I had to confront this person."

Abbott, Cruz
Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks on as Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at Uvalde High School on May 25, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

Now, Hernandez says that he and other activists associated with the Texas-based group Indivisible Houston, where he serves as a board member, have their sights set on targeting more officials.

"We are always looking to hold our elected officials accountable. That involves Sen. Cruz, and Sen. [John] Cornyn, but also, Gov. Abbott, who bears responsibility for this as well," he told Newsweek. "It extends to all of the lawmakers – almost exclusively Republicans – who are blocking meaningful gun reform in this country. And we need to confront them."

Hernandez added that Indivisible Houston will be hosting a live video event in the coming days in order to walk community members through steps necessary to engage in non-violent confrontation with lawmakers.

He said he felt inspired to address Cruz in part after watching Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke disrupt a news conference held by Abbott earlier in the week. During that interaction, O'Rourke was seen yelling at the governor for "doing nothing" about gun reform, while the governor gave details about the carnage surrounding the Uvalde shooting.

"Whether we like it or not, the moment for civility is gone. We have to confront our elected officials," Hernandez told Newsweek. "And confrontations are uncomfortable. But to me, walking through and helping other people understand how you can confront your elected officials, that's really important," he later added.

Both Cruz and Abbott have denied that gun legislation is the cause for mass shootings in the U.S., and have instead blamed Democrats for politicizing the issue. Texas has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. and has previously responded to mass shootings by expanding gun rights, rather than limiting them.