Progressive activist Alyssa Milano urged Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to take a stand on gun violence during a meeting between the two first teased on Twitter last week.
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"I'm asking you and I'm begging you to have the courage to lead, because I think you could be an instrumental part of the solution for this country and the fear that we're feeling as parents," Milano said to Cruz during a Facebook livestream of the meeting on Tuesday.
Milano, known for her roles in major television series, including "Who's the Boss?" and "Charmed," urged Cruz to meet with her after an argument the two had on Twitter over effective methods of gun control.
Milano was joined by fellow gun reform activists Ben Jackson, whose writings on the subject have been featured in publications such as The Hill and The Boston Globe, and Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was one of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018.
The group set the tone for the conversation by arguing that neither side of the debate is accurately represented by the other.
"When it comes to an issue like stopping gun violence, I think the two sides believe the worst of each other," Cruz said. "I don't think either of those caricatures is right. If we can start from what I think should be a shared goal -- which is, act to stop gun violence and stop mass murders like this in the future -- then I think we can have a reasonable conversation about what policies are most likely to produce that."
Cruz's suggestion for an effective policy was the Grassley-Cruz bill, which the senator said would responsibly address gun violence while simultaneously protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. Cruz and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley have introduced the bill multiple times in recent years in an effort to improve background checks -- though it does not include universal background checks.
"What it did is focused on strengthening background checks," Cruz explained. "I want background checks to be stronger and more effective and keep weapons out of the hands of violent felons and fugitives and people with dangerous mental illness."
It's unclear when or if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring any gun control bills up for a vote. He has said repeatedly he will only put forward a bill likely to be signed by the president.
While Milano acted more as a mediator, Guttenberg had no issue taking the offensive against Cruz and other elected officials he said have failed to respond to gun violence adequately.
"It's not about taking away your right [to own guns], it's about road blocks to take away the ability of those bad guys, those who want to kill, to get access to weapons," Guttenberg said.
Guttenberg's counterproposal to the Grassley-Cruz bill was the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (HR8), which would require background checks for every firearm sale.
Cruz and company agreed on most points, including the need for reform, strengthening of background checks and an ultimate goal to save lives. Their disagreements centered around bans on assault weapons, gun confiscation and the degree to which background checks should be strengthened.
Milano posted her reaction to the meeting on Instagram.
"I hope @sentedcruz will seize this moment and urge his party's leadership to advance the life-saving gun violence prevention bills pending in the Senate to a full debate and vote," Milano wrote. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak to Senator Cruz, and I hope our discussion inspires Americans across the political spectrum to reach across the partisan divides in our nation."
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Too many Americans are dying. There is a gun violence epidemic in America that 90% of us want fixed. Republicans and Democrats alike. I hope @sentedcruz will seize this moment and urge his party's leadership to advance the life-saving gun violence prevention bills pending in the Senate to a full debate and vote. We can't solve gun violence by talking only with people who agree with us. I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak to Senator Cruz, and I hope our discussion inspires Americans across the political spectrum to reach across the partisan divides in our nation. 🖤