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Ted Cruz walks away from interview after question on US mass shootings: 'Your political agenda'

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U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walked away from an interview after a reporter asked him why some mass shootings happen “only in America,” in the wake of the shooting at a Texas elementary school this week.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. Cruz, who attended a vigil for the victims on Wednesday, was asked by a Sky News reporter if the tragedy marks “the moment to reform gun laws,”

Cruz responded that it’s “easy to go to politics.” When the Sky News reporter Mark Stone called gun reform at the “heart of the issue,” Cruz criticized gun reform measures proposed by Democratic lawmakers and journalists.

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“But why does this only happen in your country? I really think that’s what many people around the world just … they cannot fathom,” Stone responded. “Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful.”

Cruz responded during the back-and-forth, “I’m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful,” before telling the reporter "you've got your political agenda."

“God love you,” the Texas lawmaker added, walking away from the interview.

When some reporters followed Cruz and continued asking about shootings in America, he said, “Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because it’s the freest, most prosperous, safest country on Earth,” and then appeared to call Stone a “propagandist.”

Video of the exchange quickly went viral on social media, garnering more than 5 million views on Twitter by Thursday afternoon.

This year, there have been 137 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, David Riedman, lead researcher at the K-12 School Shooting Database at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security told USA TODAY.

Children and teens in the United States are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than kids in 31 other high-income countries combined, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

Cruz this week has advocated for additional security at schools in the wake of the shooting in Uvalde, in addition to other efforts. He has opposed a slate of proposals from Democrats to curb gun violence.

The Senate on Thursday failed to move legislation forward targeting domestic terrorism. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Republicans to support the legislation to kickstart safety efforts, but it failed by a vote of 47 to 47.

"Contrary to a reporter’s assertion that suggested mass shootings are a uniquely American problem, the data shows that is not accurate. In addition to not being true, making that false argument isn’t actually helpful," Cruz's office said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Contributing: Grace Hauck

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas: Ted Cruz walks away from interview after school shooting