Former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R) weighed in on the horrific Colorado shootings on Saturday, focusing less on the suspected shooter, James Holmes, and more on the victims.
In a Facebook post timestamped just after 1 a.m. ET Saturday morning, Pearce appeared to point a finger at the Aurora, Colo. movie theatergoers' failure to stop the gunman, likening the situation to the 9-11 tragedies.
"Had someone been prepared and armed they could have stopped this "bad" man from most of this tragedy. He was two and three feet away from folks, I understand he had to stop and reload. Where were the men of flight 93????," Pearce wrote.
Shortly after the post went live, The Arizona Republic posted the Facebook statement, pointing to Pearce's record on gun control. The paper noted that as a member of the state legislature, he altered a law that allowed weapons owners to carry arms without a permit, while fighting for looser restrictions on guns in public settings.
In response to the Republic's piece, Pearce clarified his remarks, criticizing the paper in a Facebook follow-up over its attempt to "mischaracterize my earlier post as some sort of attack on the victims of the horrific attack in Colorado."
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Pearce added. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families as they should. All I did was lament that so many people should be left disarmed and vulnerable by anti-gun rules that try to create a sense of safety by posting a sign that says "No Guns", when the only real effect is to disarm everyone who could have saved lives.
"The madman had guns, but even those with the training to handle a firearm could not stop him because they had been disarmed," Pearce added. "Had they been prepared (and maybe that's the word that is throwing off the writers at the Republic) and been able to fire on their attacker, lives could have been saved. In Arizona we have passed laws to free our people so that they can defend themselves and their loved ones. You cannot predict where evil will raise its head, but you can be prepared for it."
As the architect of Arizona's controversial illegal immigration law, Pearce was removed from office in a November 2011 recall election. As recent as last Wednesday, speculation surfaced regarding a possible political comeback.