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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho – Coeur D'Alene School Board Trustee Brent Regan has apologized after he made a remark during an event in Post Falls Saturday that some people are calling racist.

In discussing the issue of what constitutes an assault rifle, Regan recalled a private conversation he'd had with his wife:

"I said, ‘They can't figure out what an assault weapon is – it's just black and it looks scary,' and she looks at me and said, ‘Well, so is Obama.'"

The remarks got some laughter and even applause before the crowd – which included roughly 100 members of the public and 8 legislators – but it also garnered criticism among those who call the remark racist.

Regan spoke with KHQ's Kelsey Watts over the phone Tuesday, and said he's apologized for the statement and that it was not meant with any malice or ill will.  In fact, he said he's surprised it's become such a big issue, and hadn't realized some people would be sensitive to his remarks.

But in an area already struggling to overcome racist stereotypes from Neo-Nazis and other groups, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations thought it a serious enough offense to call a press conference to address the issue Tuesday.

"Any time there's an incident, because of that past unfair interpretation of our society, it gets magnified.  We can have an incident here that's not nearly as major as somewhere else, and it will get national attention," KCTFHR Secretary Tony Stewart said. "…When you tell a joke against a person or a community of people, it's not only degrading, it affects their self esteem."

When asked if the task force would like to see Regan step down, Stewart replied:

"That's not something we came today to day."

One of those in attendance was former candidate for Idaho's House of Representatives, Anne Nesse:

"I don't think the statement we're addressing is about one statement, but it's about not being hateful with each other so we can solve the big problems," Nesse told KHQ.  "I think he should be more apologetic because it's not fair to the people of Coeur D'Alene."

The task force noted it is not seeking formal discipline or retribution, but hopes Regan "learns from this."  Stewart also noted Regan has already apologized to the board and administration, but called on him to also apologize to every student and parent in the district.

 Previous Coverage:

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - A member of the Coeur d'Alene school board is apologizing for a comment perceived by many to be racist that he made about President Barack Obama during a legislative forum.


Brent Regan made the comment Saturday during a discussion about federal gun control measures.


During the forum, Regan said that no clear definition of assault rifles exists, and then shared part of a conversation he'd had with his wife: "I said, 'They can't figure out what an assault weapon is - it's just black and it looks scary.' And she looks at me and says, 'Well, so is Obama.'"


Regan said Monday it never occurred to him that his words could be perceived as racist, and said he would apologize to other board members and school district administrators.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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