Angry constituents of Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) flooded his town hall meeting in North Salt Lake on Wednesday, demanding to know what he plans to do to stop mass shootings and white nationalist terrorism.
When he offered them little beyond platitudes about racism being bad, they called him out for his hypocrisy.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, 80 people attended the forum at city hall. The first question Stewart received was about keeping the public safe from mass shootings like the two that occurred over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. He answered by saying that everyone should condemn violence and racism.
A constituent demand to know why Stewart’s voting record did not match his rhetoric. “Then why did you vote no to condemn racism?” she asked, referring to his vote last month against a House resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.
Stewart first responded by arguing the question implied that he was a racist. “Why would I support a racist if I wasn’t?”
When another attendee suggested that condemning racism and violence should include condemning a president whose racism is inciting white supremacist violence, the Utah Republican replied that Trump should not be accountable as long as he doesn’t commit racist violence himself.
“The president of the United States, as far as I know, hasn’t shot anyone,” Stewart answered. Another constituent shouted back that “Charles Manson never shot anybody either,” referencing a convicted cult leader whose followers did most of the murdering on his behalf.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump boasted that his supporters were so blindly loyal that they would back him even if he murdered someone in public view. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” he said at an Iowa rally.
Here's audio of constituents confronting @RepChrisStewart at his town hall last night, including an exchange with a man who draws a comparison between @realDonaldTrump and Charles Manson #utpol pic.twitter.com/GhxFV6IMBt
— Benjamin Wood (@BjaminWood) August 8, 2019
Stewart also expressed openness on Wednesday to passing red-flag laws to temporarily disarm people deemed a threat to the safety of themselves or others, but dismissed calls for strong gun restrictions. He claimed falsely that armed people regularly stop mass shootings, incorrectly stating that this happens “more often than [people] realize.”
After threatening to walk out of the event if his constituents did not behave more civilly to him, Stewart presented a happy spin afterwards.
Second town hall of the day ✅ I appreciate those who attended in North Salt Lake! pic.twitter.com/pinxxYo8f0
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) August 8, 2019
“I appreciate those who attended in North Salt Lake,” he tweeted.
The suspected El Paso shooter who killed 22 over the weekend allegedly echoed Trump’s racist anti-immigrant rhetoric in a manifesto written prior to his attack, which targeted and Latinx people as well as many others. Numerous other attackers in recent months have also cited Trump as their inspiration.