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Lawmaker apologizes for suggesting women fearful of rape should rely on whistle, not firearms

A freshman Colorado lawmaker apologized Monday for suggesting during debate on gun control that a woman concerned about being raped should not be trusted with a gun -- but should instead use a whistle or call box.

Democratic state Rep. Joe Salazar said while his contentious comments might have come out wrong, he is sensitive to women's concerns. 

"I'm sorry if I offended anyone. That was absolutely not my intention," Salazar said in a statement to FOX31 in Denver. "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. If anyone thinks I'm not sensitive to the dangers women face, they're wrong."

Salazar made his controversial remarks during a debate on the House floor Friday over a concealed-weapons ban on college campuses. In arguing in favor of the proposal, Salazar, the father of two daughters, said women don’t need guns on college campuses to feel safe.

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles,” he said. “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 around at somebody.”

His remarks drew sharp criticism from female Republican lawmakers.

“My daughter’s going to be going off to college in about 10 years,” Rep. Lori Saine said. “I can’t imagine her only option’s going to be to outrun her attackers to a call box. I think she’s responsible enough to handle a gun.”

Salazar said he was trying to make a point about the potential for misidentifying someone and possibly shooting the wrong person, but some of his colleagues disagreed with the premise. 

“I’m sorry, a whistle and a call box are not going to help that woman on campus,” Rep. Polly Lawrence said, according to FOX31. 

Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino stood by Salazar.

“Whatever his words may have been and however much those words are being taken out of context, he did the right thing to take responsibility,” Ferrandino said.