Alex Teves was 24 when he was killed last year in Aurora, Colo., one of 12 who died last year in a mass shooting upon a theater full of movie-goers. His father, Tom Teves, of Phoenix, recently wrote to Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, urging them to reconsider their stances on assault weapon legislation, referencing his son's death in great detail and passion.
What he got in return were impersonal form letters, rife with references to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
From Talking Points Memo:
Tom Teves can’t remember exactly when his correspondence with the senators began. He estimated it was in early February when he went to the website of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the gun control organization launched by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Because he filled out a web form, he also doesn’t have an exact copy of the text he wrote in the letters. But he did have an earlier draft, which he said he had to cut down by about half to meet the space requirements of the website.
Teves said he remembered some of the sections that made it into the final version included how his son died shielding his girlfriend from the theater gunman, who was armed with high-powered guns and high-capacity magazines.
“He was in the third row to the back of the theatre on the ground covering the love of his life with his body and a ballistic bullet from an assault weapon blew his head off,” the draft of Teves’ email said. “The bullet was designed to do the most damage possible to a human body and it was extremely violent.”
Teves said he also remembered pleading with his senators to enact bans that would help do away with such guns.
“My son was not with us at Christmas and he won’t be EVER AGAIN,” Teves wrote in his draft, “it’s time our politicians had ONE TENTH of the courage my 24 year old son showed that day by protecting his love with his own body.”
But as passionate as Teves’ draft emails were, the responses he received were equally dispassionate. Both senators got back to him, but their messages didn’t express condolences or even mention the Aurora shooting.
“Thank you for contacting my office regarding the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and its impact on federal gun legislation. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me,” McCain’s letter said in its opening.
Flake’s letter also opened with an impersonal reference to the Newtown massacre.
“As you may know, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I do not believe that our society needs more laws restricting gun ownership,” Flake’s letter said. “What we really need is to do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, while ensuring that those who break existing laws are fully prosecuted.”
This news comes on the heels of a Town Hall event in which McCain addressed similar concerns from Caren Teves, Tom's wife, by saying that she needed some "straight talk" on the issue, and that an assault weapons ban "will not pass the Congress."
To see Teves' letter and the Senators' responses to TPM's inquiries (including a straight-up stonewalling from McCain's office,) head to Talking Points Memo.