Cruz in S.C. slams gun control

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a town hall meeting at Furman University on Monday in Greenville.

GREENVILLE — More good guys with guns, not more gun-control laws, was the message Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz delivered to about 150 people at a town hall Monday at Furman University.

“It’s amazing the reaction of the left when you see a terrorist attack like San Bernardino,” Cruz said, referring to the attack last week in which 14 people were killed by a married couple that reportedly supported ISIS. “Their first reaction is, ‘We want to take away the guns of law abiding citizens.’ It’s disconnected from reality.”

The town hall was hosted by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who has held a series of the meetings throughout the state with Republicans for the White House.

President Barack Obama called on Congress in a nationally televised speech Sunday night from the Oval Office to make it harder to obtain military-style firearms.

But Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, blamed gun-free zones, not the firearms used by mass shooters, for the carnage.

“You don’t stop the bad guys by taking away our guns, you stop the bad guys by using our guns,” he said. “Ain’t nothing bad guys like better than a bunch of unarmed victims.”

Cruz said he would allow service men and women to carry guns, saying it would have reduced the number of victims in the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in his home state and at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“If we can’t trust soldiers to carry a firearm, we’ve got bigger problems,” he said. “You look at what happened in Chattanooga. The next time a jihadist shows up at a recruiting center, he’s going to encounter the business end of firearms wielded by a dozen Marines.”

Cruz, who held a pre-planned rally in Iowa in support of the Second Amendment on Friday, responded to criticism that it was insensitive by holding the event two days after the shooting in San Bernardino.

“I don’t think it’s my job to be sensitive to Islamic terrorists,” Cruz said.

In the most recent national poll, Cruz was in second place with 16 percent, trailing front-runner Donald Trump.

Trump, a New York real estate billionaire and reality TV star was in Mount Pleasant on Monday for a later rally at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

Cruz fielded questions from Scott and Republican U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, of Spartanburg, during the last of Scott’s presidential town hall meetings with GOP candidates.

Supporters at the town hall meeting Monday said they were impressed with what they referred to as Cruz’s straightforward approach.

“He’s believable and he’s one of the few in Washington that does what he says he’s going to do,” said John Lynn, who traveled from Concord to see Cruz. “He doesn’t speak out of both sides of his mouth.”

Lynn said he has seen Cruz speak two or three times and has been impressed each time.

“I’m very encouraged with his message,” Lynn said. “I think it’s what America needs.”

Reach Maya T. Prabhu at 843-509-8933.