Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a gun rights supporter, declined to criticize a controversial advertisement by the National Rifle Association that called the president a hypocrite for the fact that armed guards are stationed at his daughters' school, arguing that the ad made a strong point on gun control.
"I think there's a fundamental point here," Cruz said on "Meet the Press." "There is a point of hypocrisy when it comes to gun control. Many of the proponents of gun control are very wealthy and live in communities where you can outsource police protections."
The NRA ad, released Thursday, attacked the president for his skepticism of an NRA proposal to place armed guards at all U.S. schools. Saying that armed guards protect his daughters' school, the ad declared Obama an "elitist hypocrite."
The advertisement drew widespread condemnation from Democrats as well as some Republicans, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie calling it "reprehensible."
Asked by host David Gregory if the ad went over the line by targeting the Obama children, Cruz said, "I'm going to let people decide to run what ads they want to run."
In defending gun rights, Cruz argued that these "very wealthy" gun control advocates don't understand the concerns of ordinary Americans. Intentionally or not, he also revived an old debate: to what degree District of Columbia residents in particular can own and use firearms. He used a hypothetical example of a woman in Anacostia, a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Washington, who happens to live next to a "crack house."
"You have a lot of people who are worried about preserving the safety of their own home," Cruz said. "If you're talking to a single woman living in Anacostia who has the misfortune to live next to a crack house, to tell her she doesn't have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, I think, is fundamentally wrong."
That hypothetical woman does have the right to bear arms, including handguns, thanks to the Supreme Court's landmark 2008 Heller decision, which struck down the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban. Cruz seemed to suggest that new gun control measures, such as a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, might infringe on the woman's rights.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) disagreed with Cruz, specifically raising the Heller case.
"I agree with Ted -- there's a right to bear arms," Schumer said. "I want to see that lady, if she wants to have a firearm in her house, have it. And I think folks in the pro-gun safety movement should accept the Heller decision.
"But Heller also said there should be reasonable limitations," Schumer went on. "I don't think that lady needs an assault weapon. I don't think she needs a hundred-round clip. I don't think, for instance, that those things would help her in any way. To say she has the right to bear arms, yes."
In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 children and six educators, President Barack Obama has proposed the most sweeping changes to U.S. gun laws in a generation. Among other measures, the president recommended requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, bringing back the assault weapons ban and restoring a limit of ten rounds on ammunition magazines.
The NRA has warned that the legislative battle will be the "fight of the century."
Forty-six percent of Americans in a recent HuffPost/YouGov survey said that stricter gun control laws and enforcements were most likely to lead to fewer mass shootings, while only 34 percent said that allowing more private citizens to carry guns for protection would be the more protective measure.
Correction: This post originally said the NRA ad criticized Obama for having Secret Service agents protect his daughters' school. In fact, the ad referred to "armed guards."