CONCORD, N.H. – A New Hampshire lawmaker apologized Wednesday for referring to women as “vaginas” in an email to his House colleagues during a debate over repealing a law allowing people to use deadly force to defend themselves.
“I am embarrassed, to say the least,” wrote state Rep. Peter Hansen, R-Amherst, a day after saying he didn’t regret the remark and had used the word for shock value.
In an email sent April 1, Hansen, who once used his gun to restrain an intruder at his home, referenced a speech given by another lawmaker, who described how he had been able to retreat without using deadly force in public.
“There were two critical ingredients missing in the illustrious stories purporting to demonstrate the practical side of retreat. Not that retreat may not be possible mind you. What could possibly be missing from those factual tales of successful retreat in VT, Germany, and the bowels of Amsterdam? Why children and vagina’s of course. While the tales relate the actions of a solitary male the outcome cannot relate to similar situations where children and women and mothers are the potential victims,” Hansen wrote, according to messages posted online this week by liberal blogger Susan Bruce.
Other lawmakers, NARAL-Pro Choice New Hampshire and state GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn were among those saying the remark debased women. NARAL called on him to resign.
“These comments are repugnant and unbecoming of an elected official,” said House Republican Leader Gene Chandler of Bartlett. “They have no place in public discourse. Rep. Hansen’s comments in no way reflect the opinions of House Republicans or the Republican Party. Rep. Hansen should apologize immediately.”
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan said Wednesday that she was disappointed in the language Hansen used.
“I think it offends and takes us away from the important task of making sure we debate with civility,” she said.
Hansen, 70, said Tuesday that he didn’t regret the remark and that critics don’t understand the context.
“My point in the choice of words was twofold: One was shock content and the other was to try to get into the mind of the perpetrator,” Hansen told The Telegraph of Nashua. “This is something that has been totally blown out of proportion.”
On Wednesday, he apologized to his constituents, colleagues and women for the “blatantly offensive, insensitive, and frankly, stupid language” he used.
He said the deadly force law “is an especially personal issue for reasons you all know.”
In 2011, a key witness in a deadly home invasion case broke into Hansen’s home. Hansen, who was awakened by the break-in, said 21-year-old Eldon Spikes threw himself on the floor, claimed he’d been shot and then mentioned he was friends with Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble, who were convicted of killing a Mont Vernon woman and maiming her 11-year-old daughter in 2009.
“I was able to retrieve my handgun and hold the criminal at gunpoint until our town of Amherst police responded,” Hansen told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “My reason for being so intense about the issue … is that unlike most people in the House, I have had the experience of having to decide in mini-seconds what action I needed to take to protect myself and my family while not overreacting.”
Spikes pleaded guilty to trespassing.
“The debate over the rights of everyone to protect their home and family is too important to be overshadowed by the clumsy and disrespectful way in which I tried to make my point,” Hansen said Wednesday.