Caren Teves, mother of a victim of the Aurora, Colo., mass shooting in July, said Thursday that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had responded reprehensibly to her gun control question earlier in the day, when he told her that she needed some "straight talk."
Teves' son, Alex, was 24 years old when he was gunned down alongside 11 others inside a movie theater. On Thursday, Teves, of Phoenix, attended a town hall held by McCain with hopes of encouraging the senator to support an assault weapons ban, which would restrict the sale of weapons such as the semi-automatic rifle used by the Aurora shooter.
McCain responded sharply to Teves' attempt to push the legislation.
"I can tell you right now you need some straight talk. That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States," McCain said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
(Video of McCain's entire remarks below)
In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Teves expressed disappointment in the way McCain handled her question.
“I was very surprised that a senator, who has been in office for over 30 years, would address a grieving mother, who just lost her son exactly seven months prior -- yesterday was the 20th, I lost my son on 7-20-2012 -- to tell me that I needed ‘some straight talk,’” Teves told TPM.
Teves also said she was "surprised" at the continued indifference McCain and his staff had shown her, both at the town hall event and in response to a previous attempt she had made to reach out to the senator.
“It takes a lot for me to just get out of bed every morning," Teves said. "I mean, this is still so new and so fresh, that my son was murdered. And I just expected a little more respect from someone who’s been in office over 30 years, and his staff. Between that and the form letter that we received, it’s just, it’s appalling.”
In the wake of the Aurora shooting, McCain appeared to suggest that he'd be open to discussing the merits of an assault weapons ban. When such a bill was revamped and introduced after December's school massacre in Newtown, Conn., however, McCain took a more rigid tone, saying that it would have no chance of passing in Congress.
McCain came under fire from constituents on both sides of the spectrum in sessions held during the congressional recess. On Tuesday, McCain was forced to defend his position on comprehensive immigration reform to a number of disgruntled voters who pushed back with extreme views on undocumented immigrants.
McCain: Well, first of all could I say thank you and God bless … our hearts and our prayers go out to you and your family. I just had a town hall meeting yesterday in Tucson and there were people there who were affected by the terrible tragedy of the shooting there. I met with Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords in my office last week on this issue -- as you know they are becoming, understandably, great advocates on this issue, and I will continue that conversation. I can tell you right now, you need some straight talk, that assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States. It won’t. Now I owe it to you to give you my opinion ... All I can tell you is what I told this young lady and this lady here: I will continue to work with the bipartisan group on both sides of the aisle representing all of America, not just California, and we will try to come up with ways to prevent this from happening again. That means increased background checks, closing loopholes, other things like that -- that’s fine. But you know again, you didn’t like some of my response, I didn’t like the response to Chicago. Those murders in Chicago -- there’s no assault weapon-using. There’s no large clip that’s being used. It’s a handgun where people go out an kill people. So to somehow think that an assault weapons ban will have the slightest effect on the murders in Chicago and other metropolitan areas obviously is not an accurate depiction of the facts on the ground. But I appreciate your opinion -- I promise you that you have my commitment to work with every member of Congress no matter where they are in the political arena to try and prevent this from happening again.
This post has been updated to include full video and text of McCain's remarks.