The mother of a man killed in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting last July said she was “appalled” when Arizona Sen. John McCain told her she needed “some straight talk” on gun-control issues during a town hall meeting in Phoenix.
Caren Teves attended the Republican senator’s meeting Wednesday, exactly seven months after her son Alex, 24, was killed along with 11 others in the theater massacre, reports Talking Points Memo, a political news website.
A self-proclaimed supporter of the Second Amendment, she asked the senator about the possibility of a federal ban on assault rifles, adding that “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines don’t belong on our streets.”
“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 shot back, sounding a bit like the “Straight Talk Express” candidate from his presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008.
The senator did not say whether he would support a ban.
“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 . . . to tell me that I needed ‘some straight talk,’” Caren Teves told TPM by phone.
She also complained about McCain’s response to a recent letter her husband, Tom, wrote to him about the Aurora shootings. She said the senator’s office replied with a generic, impersonal form letter that focused on the more recent school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and didn't respond to the Aurora tragedy.
At the very least, Teves said she expected McCain or someone on his staff to speak with her after the town hall meeting, but no one approached her.
“I was surprised at that. It takes a lot for me to just get out of bed every morning. I mean, this is still so new and so fresh, that my son was murdered,” Teves said in the phone interview. “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.”
Tom Teves, a McCain supporter in the past, said the whole experience has left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I have voted Republican my whole life. I’ll never vote Republican again — ever,” he told TPM.
McCain's encounter with the couple came a day after a tense meeting in Sun Lakes, Ariz., where the senator called a man in the crowd a jerk after he hounded him on border control and immigration issues.
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