After Colorado Theater Shooting, Lawmakers Lose Their Cool

Some appeared to blame victims, or the godless, after gun rampage in a movie theater.

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At least three current or former lawmakers drew attention to themselves over the weekend with intense or questionable remarks in reaction to Friday's Colorado movie theater shooting, which left at least 12 dead and dozens injured.

Republican former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce responded to the shootings on his Facebook page, where he appeared to blame the movie theatergoers for their inability to stop the shooter, believed to be 24-year-old James Holmes. Comparing the tragedy to the September 11 attacks, Pearce wrote:

"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????"

The Arizona Republic posted his comments to its site, while pointing out that as senator, Pearce had been a strong supporter of gun rights in the state.

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Pearce later accused the Republic of trying to "mischaracterize my earlier post as some sort of attack on the victims of the horrific attack in Colorado," and said that what he was really trying to attack was America's anti-gun laws.

Pearce soon removed both posts from his page.

Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert was similarly forced to clarify remarks after he called the shooting an example of the "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs."

During a radio interview on the Heritage Foundation's show Istook Live!, Gohmert said:

"You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place... People say... where was God in all of this? We've threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God's name, they're going to be jailed...I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don't want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present."

After Gohmert was criticized for the remarks, he issued a statement saying the interview was being "grossly taken out of context," and that he was "very sorry" if his comments "caused heartache to anyone in Colorado."

Also losing his cool on the radio was Colorado Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who called suspected shooter James Holmes on local KOA radio "a psychotic son of a bitch."

The congressman quickly apologized, saying "sorry for the cussing—you know, it's boggling to my mind."

Perlmutter's district is in close proximity to the site of the horrific Columbine massacre, in which a shooting rampage by two heavily armed high school students left 12 of their peers and one teacher dead in 1999.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.