DENVER - A state Senator is apologizing for appearing insensitive with comments made to a rape victim during testimony at the Capitol.
That victim, Amanda Collins, was raped in a University of Nevada-Reno parking garage in 2007. Collins had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but Nevada law prohibited concealed weapons on college campuses.
At the Colorado Capitol on Monday, senators were debating House Bill 1226, which would ban concealed weapons on Colorado college campuses.
"How does rendering me defenseless protect you against a violent crime?" Collins asked Senate committee members.
State Sen. Evie Hudak, a Westminster Democrat, responded.
"Statistics are not on your side," Hudak said. "Even if you had had a gun, you said that you were a martial arts student -- I mean person -- experienced in Tae Kwon Do, and yet because this individual was so large, (he) was able to overcome you, even with your skills. And chances are that if you had had a gun then, he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you."
She then cited a statistic from the Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence.
"For every one woman who used a handgun to kill someone in self-defense, 83 were murdered by them," Hudak said.
"Respectfully Senator, you weren't there," said Collins. "Had I been carrying concealed, he wouldn't have known that I had my weapon. I know without a doubt in my mind, at some point I would have been able to stop my attack by using my firearm."
"I don't know if I felt more victimized or patronized," Collins told 7NEWS by phone on Tuesday from her home in Reno. "It was quiet. You could have heard a pin drop. I think people were flabbergasted."
Collins told 7NEWS that a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association invited her to come to Colorado to testify.
She said Hudak talked with her in the hallway after her testimony.
"She apologized for upsetting me and said that she shouldn't have said that," said Collins. "She went on further to say that she believed that I would have been, based on the statistics that she used, the one out of the 80 that would have been able to stop my attack."
Collins believes a backlash on social media played a role Hudak's apology.
"I think she became very aware of a lot of the flack that she was getting on Twitter and Facebook almost instantaneously," said Collins.
7NEWS checked Hudak's Facebook account. She has received some nasty comments.
Some of the first responses posted after Hudak's comments read:
- "The way you treated that rape victim during her testimony was a disgrace and disgusting. You should be very ashamed of yourself."
- "You're pathetic."
- "Shame on you, Senator."
7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger asked Collins, "Do you accept her apology?"
"I forgave the man who raped me without him apologizing to me, so I can forgive her, yeah," said Collins.
Late Tuesday night, Hudak provided 7NEWS the following statement:
"I didn't mean to be insensitive towards Amanda Collins' experience. I respect the courage it took for the witnesses to share their heartbreaking stories. Amanda was reflecting on her experience and asked the committee if having a gun would have made her safer. I realize now it was a rhetorical question.
"Amid this emotional testimony, my goal was to share research data about the increased danger of having a gun in an assault. As a domestic violence victim advocate, I know that for every one woman that used a handgun to kill someone in self-defense, 83 were murdered by them. My timing was not the best for making the point. I'm glad I had the opportunity to offer Amanda a sincere apology in a private conversation."