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3 Things We Heard About Guns During Ted Cruz And Beto O'Rourke's First Debate

Tom Fox
The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool
Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, left, and Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke, second from left, take part in their first debate for the Texas U.S. Senate in Dallas, Friday.

Guns, the Second Amendment, school shootings and this month's shooting death of Botham Jean were all testy topics for Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke during Friday night's U.S. Senate debate at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

1. Botham Jean shooting

Botham Jean, the 26-year-old man shot and killed by Dallas Police Department patrol officer Amber Guyger on Sept. 6, was an early debate topic. 

"Nobody should be in their own home and shot and killed in their own home," Cruz said. "Right now, today, I don't know what happened that evening."

Cruz then attacked O'Rourke on wanting to fire Guyger and being anti-police. 

"With the tragic shooting death of Botham Jean, you have another unarmed black man killed in this country by law enforcement," O'Rourke said. "We've got to do something better than what we've been doing so far." 

2. Police violence

A follow-up debate question directly addressed police violence against unarmed African-Americans. Cruz, who mentioned the Sept. 14 death of on-duty Fort Worth police officer Garrett Hull earlier, said everyone's right should be protected regardless of race or ethnicity.

"But I'll tell you something, I've been to too many police funerals," Cruz said. 

Cruz then again attacked O'Rourke, claiming that he said white police officers are shooting unarmed, African-American children, referencing a Washington Post fact-check.

But, the Post did not issue a ratingon that fact-check, noting that there are multiple ways to interpret O'Rourke's claim. 

"I'm not going to repeat the slander and mischaracterization," O'Rourke countered. "This is your trick and the trade." 

3. School shootings 

The May 2018 shooting at Sante Fe High School near Houston was also a hot debate issue. Cruz advocated for more armed police officers in schools.

"We can make our schools safer by having officers protect them," Cruz said.

O'Rourke, usually deferring to attack Cruz directly, said, "Thoughts and prayers, Senator Cruz, are just not going to cut it anymore."

Moreover, O'Rourke said bringing weapons into the classroom are not going to make students safer.

Cruz was quick to counter.

"Let me be very clear, more armed police officers in our schools is not 'thoughts and prayers,'" Cruz said. "I'm sorry you don't like thoughts and prayers."

Rewatch the first of three U.S. Senate debates, courtesy of KXAS-TV/NBC5

Anthony Cave reports gun culture as part of a new national reporting collaborative called Guns & America.