Four current senators and three former senators who opposed an assault weapons ban in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 now say they made a mistake, according to The Washington Post.
“My activity was passive, not active, in searching for a solution, and that I regret,” former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told the Post.
The Post heard similar remarks in interviews with Sens. Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo.; Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Angus King, I-Maine; and Mark R. Warner, D-Va.
“I don’t know how I would have turned them down,” Warner said of the families of Sandy Hook victims. “I don’t know how I could have looked them in the eye.”
Other former Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Udall, D-Colo., also expressed contrition about not supporting gun control measures at the time.
Many of the senators the Post interviewed expressed feeling pressured by NRA supporters and the NRA itself.
“I don’t remember when I reached the point in which I, like, threw out the NRA card and didn’t renew my membership,” Heinrich told the Post. “But my point being, I didn’t feel at the time like this was my issue [in 2013]. And I think, after you experienced a decade of mass shootings, it’s everyone’s issue. And so that’s the kind of journey that I’ve been on.”
Francine Wheeler, the mother of one of the victims, said Heitkamp would not even look at her when the two met in 2013, and described Heitkamp at the time as “defensive, unkind, and not interested in helping or listening to the stories of our loved ones.”
“If any person was left with the impression that I had anything other than the most supreme sympathy and just hurt, that is a failure on my part, and I couldn’t apologize more,” said Heitkamp of her meeting with Sandy Hook families, adding that she was “extraordinarily sorry”