Speed Reads

duking it out

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ruthlessly grills Ted Cruz over his defense of AR-15 rifles

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday, quickly launching into a fiery debate with host Joe Scarborough over the legal standing of AR-15 rifles.

Cruz, who won renomination to the Senate on Tuesday night, began by arguing that a previous ban on assault-style weapons had "no statistically significant effect on violent crime." He insisted that semiautomatic weapons like the AR-15 aren't functionally any more dangerous than deer hunting rifles, saying that "what they call an assault weapon is essentially a scary-looking gun with a plastic handle here, a strap there."

Scarborough followed by challenging the senator on whether the Second Amendment grants Americans a constitutional right to carry an AR-15. Cruz invoked his role as a lawyer arguing before the Supreme Court in Heller v. District of Columbia, which ruled that individuals have the right to possess a firearm for self-defense, to argue that it does.

As Cruz explained the ruling, Scarborough said the senator's characterization was so misleading that lawyers would be "rolling their eyes." Cruz reminded Scarborough that his pre-Senate career "was litigating before the Supreme Court," adding, "I recognize this is not what you do."

"I don't need you to lecture me," Scarborough fired back. "There is not a constitutional right [to own an assault weapon], and you know it," the host said. "You can talk down to me all you want to." Cruz interjected: "Who is talking down to whom?"

The two continued their testy back-and-forth, with Scarborough sarcastically complimenting Cruz's "swatting away" of a "legal reality." Watch the exchange below. Summer Meza