Colorado Lawmaker: Women Can’t Tell Whether They’re About To Be Raped, May Shoot The Wrong Person

State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-CO)

In a debate over whether to prevent college students from carrying concealed weapons on campus on Friday, Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar (D) suggested that female students are too paranoid to responsibly use a firearm. According to the state lawmaker, women may not be able to tell whether or not they’re actually in danger and end up pulling the trigger on an innocent person:

SALAZAR: It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody.

Gun advocates often attempt to frame concealed carry permits as a women’s issue, claiming that women need the added protection of a firearm to fight back against attempted incidents of sexual assault. Domestic violence counselors vehemently oppose the policy, pointing out that hidden guns on campus won’t actually help address rape culture, particularly since an estimated two-thirds of sexual assaults occur between people who already know each other. But suggesting that women are too emotional to be able to identify sexual violence — and implying that paranoid women may sometimes “feel like” they’re in trouble when they “may actually not be” — doesn’t help address pervasive issues of rape culture, either.

Salazar apologized for his remarks today. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone,” his statement read. “That was not my intention. We were having a public policy debate on whether or not guns makes people safer on campus. I don’t believe they do. That was the point I was trying to make.”

Insensitive comments about rape certainly know no party lines. But concrete policies to address issues of sexual assault have unfortunately become more partisan in recent months. The federal Violence Against Women Act, which has strengthened systems to help survivors of sexual violence for the past 18 years — and which specifically impacts college students, since it helps fund campus programs to address dating violence — has been locked in a political battle in Congress ever since GOP lawmakers balked at adding expanding protections for diverse communities. Republicans in Congress actually let it expire for the first time ever during the last legislative session.