Rape occurs in part because victims aren’t “empowering themselves” by packing guns. That was the recent message from a fiercely pro-gun rights member of Indiana’s House of Representatives.
But after a tsunami of criticism, Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas now say he’s sorry he said it.
Lucas last week sent a letter to a reporter at the Indianapolis Star who had written about a rape. He urged the journalist to produce a follow-up story on the “thousands of Hoosier women that are taking steps and learning how not to be a victim” and “empower themselves to mitigate their chances of being violently assaulted.”
Lucas told the newspaper in an interview: “That’s always been a concern and an issue of mine is women being able to defend themselves. I personally have paid out of my pocket for dozens of women to take firearms classes.”
Critics accused him of blaming unarmed victims rather than attackers, and using rape to push his pro-gun rights agenda. Even after the controversy erupted, he noted on Facebook that he had met with members of the Women Armed and Ready group. “It’s so exciting to see that the movement to educate and empower women to be able to protect themselves and family is absolutely exploding!” he said in a post.
He also posted a photo from the group One Million Moms Against Gun Control.
And he showed off his “latest purchase” on Facebook — a T-shirt reading: “Fem-i-nism: Woman’s right to carry whatever color or caliber gun she wants to. ‘Cause a cop won’t fit in your purse.”
Lucas apologized Saturday after he said he was “publicly excoriated” when he posted his letter to the reporter on his Facebook page. The letter was embossed with Indiana’s state seal.
“I learned how common, everyday words can be so extremely sensitive to survivors of such horrible acts,” he wrote. But he also said he was “absolutely amazed at the “level of hatred” directed at him, and that his words, in his view, had been “twisted.”
Lucas has been in trouble before over women’s issues. Last year he posted a meme on his Facebook page with a caption asking: “Wanna know who loves you more: your wife or your dog? Lock them both in your [car] trunk and see who’s happy to see you when you let them out.”
CORRECTION: This article previously misidentified the Indianapolis Star as the “Star Tribune.”