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Sen. McCain Tells Aurora Victim’s Mother She Needs ‘Straight Talk’

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on February 22, 2013

Sometimes “straight talk” is necessary. Sometimes “straight talk” is important.

But sometimes “straight talk” is nothing more than a cheap ploy to whip a crowd of Second Amendment absolutists into such a frenzy they lose all ability to discern whether they’re cheering for their Constitutional rights or being totally insensitive a-holes to a still-grieving Aurora victim’s mother.

Tom Teves, Caren Teves
Thomas and Caren Teves — AP Photo/Chris Schneider

Sen. John McCain, who on recess in Arizona is having a difficult time convincing his town hall attendees to get on board with comprehensive immigration reform, figured he might as well get a cheap pop on gun reform.

Caren Teves, the mother of Aurora shooting victim Alex Teves, attended Wednesday’s town hall meeting, where she introduced herself as a mass shooting victim’s mother and “supporter of the Second Amendment.”

“My 24-year-old son Alex was murdered in a movie theater in Colorado,” Teves told McCain. “These assault rifles allow the shooter to fire many rounds without having to re-load. These weapons do not belong on our streets.”

McCain’s response? He hit her with the ol’ Quit Yer Yappin’ gambit: “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’s comments generated big cheers from the crowd, which like last month’s Newtown hearing, chose boisterous gun approval over sensitivity and decency.

AZFamily.com posted the video — it starts about 50 seconds into this clip:

Amazingly, Teves says she was unfazed by the town hall’s reaction, and to be fair, she says the crowd applauded a statement cut out of the clip. Talking Points Memo spoke with Teves about the unfortunate political scene:

“I wasn’t surprised,” Teves said. “It’s a large, divided issue. I did start my sentence with — and I believe this — ‘I am a supporter of the Second Amendment.’ What they did not show you in that clip was after I did say that the military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines don’t belong on our streets, there was also some huge support and applause that unfortunately was cut out of that clip.”

But wait, it gets worse:

Teves said her husband recently wrote McCain a letter addressing the Aurora shooting, which took the lives of their son and 11 other people. But she said McCain’s office responded with a impersonal form letter that focused on an an entirely different massacre: the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Neither McCain nor his staff approached her after the town hall event, she added.

“I was surprised at that,” Teves said. “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. 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.”

Caren and Tom Teves, who live in Phoenix, said they have supported McCain in the past, including his last campaign. “I have voted Republican my whole life,” Tom Teves told TPM. “I’ll never vote Republican again — ever.”

As we saw with the perceived Newtown heckling, and again here at this town hall in Arizona, the line between standing up for one’s rights and having total disregard for someone’s raw grief is now completely blurred.

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