Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) will not be attending this Saturday's gun forum organized by local students in Western New York.
The "Town Hall for Our Lives,” rally is to be held at Buffalo's St. Paul’s Cathedral this Saturday.
"The idea is to generate a respectful discussion on the merits of gun control and potential solutions to the mass shootings that have devastated communities and schools throughout the country," according to local reports.
Collins isn't so sure.
"This rally is going to be an anti-gun rally," Collins explained in an interview with WBEN Radio 930AM Thursday morning.
What we really need to focus on, he said, is "the root cause" of these shootings. "It's not the gun, it's the shooter."
Yet, the hosts wondered if Collins's no show makes it seem like he's "turning his back" on the kids.
"i don't think so," he said, because he's going to be at two high schools this weekend talking to kids. He'd be "happy" to go to Clarence High School at some point for legitimate discussions.
The forum, on the other hand, is "an anti-Republican situation."
"It's hypocrites of the worst kind."
The forum speakers, he predicted, are going to be standing up on stage saying they're going to ban the AR-15.
That is unproductive, he said, because most guns in America are semiautomatic. "We've had them for 130 years."
"Banning a gun doesn't change the shooter," he said.
He mentioned his own efforts to address shootings, including voting for the NICS bill that passed Congress last week to strengthen background checks.
He won't be bringing that message to Saturday's forum, he elaborated, because it's just going to be a political demonstration.
"It's going to be a circus," he added. "It's not a productive use of my time. This is a trap I'm not going to fall into."
The hosts asked him if he meant to make his recent controversial comment, which was met with backlash in the community, that the kids in question are "radical partisans."
"They have been co-opted by radical partisans," he clarified. "I feel bad for them."
While the forum may have been a chance for Collins to offer a conservative voice, he surmised that that's not this event's intent. After all, candidates running for office will be there.
"The minute they start inviting opponents of his" like Democrat Nathan McMurray, who aren't even holding office at the federal level, he knew he would not be attending.
"Why aren't they holding this at Clarence High School?"
McMurray listened in on the conversation and quickly responded.
Oh my. Collins is on the radio right now saying he doesn’t have to meet with the public, explaining it all away with half truths/empty justifications. How does he get away with all this? The arrogance, ethics, etc? Oh yes, he’s rich. He thinks he can buy your vote. Can he?— Nate McMurray for Congress (@Nate_McMurray) April 5, 2018