Actress Alyssa Milano met with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday to discuss and debate stricter gun control laws. The two were accompanied by gun control activist Ben Jackson and Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died during the shooting in Parkland, Florida last year. The group streamed the entire meeting live on Sen. Cruz's Facebook page.
"I look at my children and I'm terrified. I don't know how to keep my children safe and it's terrifying. And I think parents across the country feel this way," Milano explained. "And I know you're a smart, smart man and I know there are things that we differ on and I know that you're smart enough to know the perception of what is out there about you. And I know you're smart enough to know where that comes from. And, for many people in this country, your stance has made you almost like this caricature of a villain and that's why this meeting was so important for me, because I wanted to be able to look at you in the eye and know that you really are a human with a heartbeat."
"I'm asking you and I'm begging you to have the courage to lead, because I think you could be an instrumental part of the solution for this country and the fear that we're feeling as parents," Milano told Cruz.
According to Cruz, both sides assume the worst about the other.
"When it comes to an issue like stopping gun violence, I think the two sides believe the worst of each other," Cruz said. "I don't think either of those caricatures is right. If we can start from what I think should be a shared goal -- which is, act to stop gun violence and stop mass murders like this in the future -- then I think we can have a reasonable conversation about what policies are most likely to produce that."
"I want to make sure people's right to self-defense is protected; because the up to three million people a year protecting their home, I want to protect their lives too," Cruz explained. "What I think is effective is focusing on the bad guys, is focusing on felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illnesses that are a danger to themselves or others."
Cruz has repeatedly introduced the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act, alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The goal of the bill is improve background checks by making sure all agencies and institutions are adequately submitting convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
"What it did is focused on strengthening background checks," Cruz explained. "I want background checks to be stronger and more effective and keep weapons out of the hands of violent felons and fugitives and people with dangerous mental illness."
The bill is lacking support from Democrats because it doesn't include reforms gun control proponents want, like requiring a background check for every private party transfer (which is typically between family members or close friends).
Guttenberg, however, disagreed with the Cruz-Grassley bill. Instead, he made it clear he believes the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (HR8), which would create universal background checks, is what should be implemented. That bill passed the House earlier this year but has yet to come before the Senate.
"It's not about taking away your right. It's about road blocks to take away the ability of those bad guys, those who want to kill, to get access to weapons," Guttenberg said.
Cruz and Milano both agreed that the meeting was productive.
“I am always grateful for the opportunity to engage in positive, civil discussion on the substantive issues of the day — especially with those with whom I disagree. Today’s meeting was productive and respectful, and I appreciate Alyssa and Fred’s willingness to come here with an open mind. I believe more conversations like this will go a long way in helping unite and heal our divided country,” Cruz said in a statement. “We all agree we have far too many of these mass shootings, and they need to stop. It is long past time for everyone to put away the partisan talking points so we can work together to solve this problem. We need to act."
Milano shared a post on Instagram following the meeting, saying she believes both Republicans and Democrats want to solve the issue of gun violence in America.
View this post on Instagram
Too many Americans are dying. There is a gun violence epidemic in America that 90% of us want fixed. Republicans and Democrats alike. I hope @sentedcruz will seize this moment and urge his party’s leadership to advance the life-saving gun violence prevention bills pending in the Senate to a full debate and vote. We can’t solve gun violence by talking only with people who agree with us. I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak to Senator Cruz, and I hope our discussion inspires Americans across the political spectrum to reach across the partisan divides in our nation. ??
Here's the full live stream of the meeting: