Democratic Congressman Jason Crow (Colo.) is refusing to apologize for pushing gun-control at a vigil for victims of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting.
Crow, a freshman who represents STEM in the U.S. House of Representatives, released a statement defending remarks he made at a vigil on Wednesday organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The remarks, along with those made by Colorado's senior Senator Michael Bennet (D.), triggered a massive walkout from students and survivors of the shooting. The students accused both Crow and Bennet of politicizing their grief in favor of their gun-control agenda.
"It is my job to show up and support my community during times of tragedy," Crow said on Thursday. "I grieve for what Highlands Ranch and our families have been through." A copy of the statement was shared on social media by local Colorado reporter.
"The last few days I have been asked the same question over and over again: what are you doing to stop this from happening?" Crow continued. "It is my job to take tough questions and offer real solutions. Bottomline, everyone needs to listen to those most impacted by this violence to learn how we can move forward, and that begins with listening to the students of STEM school."
NEW: statement from @RepJasonCrow on student walkout in protest of political tone of #StemShooting vigil. Crow, unlike the vigil organizer @bradybuzz, is not apologizing. #9News #copolitics pic.twitter.com/GCuy3lV15C
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) May 9, 2019
Wednesday's demonstration occurred one day after two gunmen opened fire at STEM resulting in the death of one student and the wounding of eight others. The fatality occurred when Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old senior, was wounded heroically leading a group of his fellow students to subdue the gunmen.
It was Bennet's decision to invoke Castillo's bravery at the vigil that initially sparked the ill-feelings that led to the walkout. The senator, who recently announced his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, told the 2,000 in attendance that Congress had failed to fix "America's broken gun laws," so students like, Castillo, were forced to "give up their own life…to save their classmates' lives." When it was his turn to speak, Crow only upset those gathered even more by saying "they already" had his "thoughts and prayers" but deserved and "should demand more."
After the remarks, a large portion of the students chose to walkout to the parking lot, rather than remain at the vigil.
"Don't use Kendrick’s name for political reasons!" students shouted while leaving, as the Highlands Ranch Herald noted. Others chanted "Mental Health!" and "It's not about guns," when making their way out the door.
Before releasing his statement on Thursday, Crow introduced legislation to prohibit gun sales to individuals residing outside of the state where the purchase is taking place.