Father of Parkland victims calls Cruz ‘evil’ in wake of Uvalde shooting

Published: May 26, 2022 5:26 AM EDT
Updated: May 26, 2022 5:48 AM EDT
Fred Guttenberg, father of a 14-year-old daughter who was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school barricaded himself inside a single classroom and "began shooting anyone that was in his way," authorities said Wednesday in detailing the latest mass killing to rock the U.S. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter was killed in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, said he is still angry after the Uvalde school shooting.

“I did not sleep last night. So, I am angry. I am sad,” Guttenberg told CBS News’ Anne Marie Greene on Wednesday. “I feel broken for all of the families who have lived with gun violence and for families that now join them. I have had enough.”

Guttenberg, who has become a gun reform activist and author since the Parkland shooting, which killed 17 people, said he is “done begging and speaking to legislators that will not do the right thing.”

Guttenberg has spoken with lawmakers on Capitol Hill about gun legislation, including Texas Republican Ted Cruz. “I begged and he then went on and spent the next three years mocking the idea of reducing gun violence — which, by the way, we do not call ‘gun control.'”

Guttenberg said the issue is gun safety and trying to reduce gun violence.

He also criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, who tweeted in 2015 that he was “embarrassed” that Texas was No. 2 in the nation.

“They should be fired; they should resign. They made choices that put this country and that state in this place,” Guttenberg said of the lawmakers’ stances on guns.

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Cruz in the past and he is slated to speak at its convention, which begins on May 27 in Houston.

Cruz was asked by reporters about the shooting on Tuesday and said “targeting the felons and fugitives” was an effective way to stop shootings – not more laws, a belief he has reiterated following several mass shootings. He called the shooting “truly horrific” and said there’s “nothing more evil than to target children, especially young children.”

“Ted Cruz is evil,” Guttenberg said when asked about Cruz’s comment. “When Ted Cruz says things like that, it is evil.”

A recent CBS News poll found that 54% of Americans want laws governing the sale of guns made more strict. Thirty percent said gun laws should be kept as they are, and 16% want them to be less strict.

Despite the fact that many Americans agree that gun sales should be more strict, little has been done to change laws, and mass shootings are still prevalent in the U.S., with two happening in less than one week – the school shooting in Uvalde and the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

“Maybe it is time to stop depending on lawmakers to do anything?” Guttenberg said. “Here we are again. It is the same conversation again. Nothing is changing.” He suggested President Biden could sign an executive order on gun laws but acknowledged that could just be reversed by a subsequent president.

Guttenberg said he believes, at a minimum, there need to be background checks for gun buyers, the age to legally own a gun should be raised to 21 and old gun laws should be repealed.

In regards to the grieving families in Uvalde, Guttenberg shared advice on staying strong: “My daughter died running down the hallway for her life from an active shooter. What she went through was an act of strength and even I knew that it cannot come close and I get my strength from her.”

“Other families, the next few days and weeks, really it is going to be about one second to the next. It’s is going to be about the need to plan a funeral and write a eulogy, take care of those you love.”

“I want to let the families know you have survivors who love you, who will be there for you, who will hold your hand as you try to figure out what the path forward is,” he said.

CBS News has reached out to a representative for Cruz and is awaiting a response.