A Colorado state lawmaker apologized Tuesday for a remark on rape he made during a debate over gun control laws.
State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democrat, said the comment did not make his point, which was that a young woman who is in danger on a college campus would be better served by police call boxes, "safe zones" and whistles than a gun.
During the legislative debate, he said, "Because you just don't know who you are going to be shooting at," Salazar said. "If you feel like you're going to be raped or if you feel like someone's been following you around or if you feel like you're in trouble and when you may actually not be - that you pop out that gun and you pop - pop a round at somebody. And you might have just made a mistake."
The Democratic-held House debated and passed four gun-related measures on Monday, including a prohibition on carrying a concealed weapon into buildings on college campuses, a limit on magazine sizes, a fee to cover the cost of a background check, and a requirement that background checks be conducted before private gun sales.
Vice President Joe Biden and National Rifle Association President David Keene personally lobbied for and against the bills, which now go to the Democratic-held state Senate. The Denver Post reported the votes there could be close, and the bills could be delayed as the body handles other legislation.
Salazar said in a statement that he regretted making the comment.
"I am deeply sorry. The words I said near the end of a 12-hour debate are not reflective of the point I was trying to make," he said. "I am a husband and father of two girls. I care deeply about their safety, and I would never question a woman's ability to discern a threat. My larger point was about how more guns on campus don't mean you're more safe. I used a bad example. Again, I'm sorry."
Salazar also is an adjunct professor of law who has taught at several Colorado universities and said he plans to take a concealed weapons training course because he received a "nasty death threat."
In his class "we go over a scenario about having weapons on campus," he said. "Imagine that we're here in this class, and you start hearing some shooting happen outside. And then you start hearing more shooting. What are you going to do?"
He makes the point in class that an armed student who does not see the shooting start would not be prepared to handle the situation. "You could actually be shooting somebody who thinks that they're protecting you," he said.
The mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in July was one of a series of massacres last year that turned a spotlight on gun violence. James Holmes has been charged with the killing of 12 and wounding of 58 people.