That depends on who you ask.
'I believe everyone's rights should be protected, regardless of your race, regardless of your ethnicity, ' Cruz said. "You're just going to mean that more killers and murderers have guns, '" Cruz said.
The candidates disagreed on several issues throughout the evening, including immigration, the future of health care and the legalization of marijuana. For however many voters were watching on a Friday night - when the focus of many Texans is on high school football - there was little appeal from either candidate to a middle ground.
Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke clashed over police shootings and gun rights in the first debate of their competitive Texas Senate race. O'Rourke frequently complained that Cruz was misrepresenting his positions - at one point accusing the incumbent Republican of "slander". "We are running for this country, each and every single one of us".
When asked why fans had this image that he didn't support Democrats.
With the moderators seeking to move on, Cruz interjected to assert that "more armed police officers in our school is not thoughts and prayers".
O'Rourke, 45, responded that the accusation was 'simply not true'.
Cruz went out of his way to paint O'Rourke as to the left of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen.
O'Rourke has built his campaign around healthcare, economic inequality, and resisting Trump and Cruz's immigration policies, as well as calling for some gun-control measures including uniform background checks and banning high-capacity weapons.
President Donald Trump will rally in Texas for Cruz next month, which was once unthinkable in the nation's largest red state.
"It's their prerogative", he said, before jokingly adding, "I might not like their music, either". "I will pray for anyone in harm's way".
Cruz said that Dr. Martin Luther King would not have "stood for" Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protests, during which the NFL player famously kneeled pregame to bring awareness to police-involved violence. O'Rourke supports banning assault rifles.
O'Rourke, meanwhile, disputed reports that he tried to flee the scene of a 1998 drunken-driving arrest in El Paso.
The debate, slated to begin at 7 p.m. EST, marks the first direct face-off between the two men in a race that has vaulted to the top of the American political consciousness, as Democrats believe O'Rourke represents their best chance in decades to win statewide office in Texas for the first time since the early 1990's. Even the latest polls are at odds over who's in the lead.
Cruz, a onetime Ivy League debate champion, finished second in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.
Recent polls show that the race between Cruz and O'Rourke is relatively close for Texas, which has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1992.
O'Rourke was driving drunk at what a witness called "a high rate of speed" in a 75 miles per hour zone on Interstate 10 about a mile from the New Mexico border.