The February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has sparked numerous threats in Colorado, where student arrests and increased security at various facilities have occurred statewide during recent days, as well as plenty of conversation about whether new gun-control laws are needed. Against this backdrop, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario has stirred controversy aplenty by way of a Facebook video on view here in which he suggests that blaming weapons for such incidents is flat-out nonsensical.
"Let’s talk about vehicle crashes," he says in the clip, which was originally posted on February 19. "About 25,000 people a year are killed because of motor-vehicle crashes, but you don’t hear anybody blaming the vehicle. We blame the driver. We have burglaries. Do we blame the locks on the doors? No, we blame the criminal. Bank robbers — we don’t blame the bank or the vault or the money or the teller. We blame the criminal."
In his view, Vallario goes on, the "same thing is true when we have somebody killed with a gun or other type of weapon. We need to blame the person behind the crime, not the gun. It’s really convenient for the liberal politicians and Hollywood types to stand on the red carpet and spout out things about gun control, and they know very little about that."
Of course, left-wing officials and movie stars aren't the only folks talking about the connection between the easy availability of automatic weapons and classroom carnage. Indeed, many of the protests this time around are being driven by teenagers, including many most directly in the potential line of fire.
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Yesterday, our Chris Walker previewed a March 24 "Walk for Our Lives" event being coordinated locally by nineteen-year-old Tay Anderson, the youngest candidate ever for a Denver Board of Education seat (he finished third) and lead organizer of the November 25 protest at Ink! Coffee over gentrification in Denver. He is now working as a legislative aide to state representative Jovan Melton.
We've also reported about plans in place for a "National High School Walk-Out for Anti-Gun Violence" on April 20, the nineteenth anniversary of the attack on Columbine High School.
But Vallario, whose video was part of his twice-monthly "Just the Facts" series, seems too pissed off to give much credence to such efforts.
"Today, we’re going to be a little controversial, because, quite frankly, I’m angry," the clip begins. "The reason I’m angry is that we’ve had another tragic school shooting in this country...that took the lives of seventeen innocent people, most of them students and young people. But I’m also angry about how, almost immediately, people want to politicize this topic and liberal politicians and Hollywood elites want to jump on this bandwagon of gun control. They immediately want to blame guns. They don’t want to look at the real issues. They don’t want to look at the evil. They don’t want to look at the criminal mind."
In his opinion, critics also fail to understand that schools are more vulnerable when there's an anti-gun mindset.
"For some reason, our government has decided that although we carry guns in banks for security, and malls for security, and stores for security, and now even churches for security, we are not allowed to carry guns in schools for security. And that’s just ridiculous. These schools instead have big flashing signs that say 'gun-free zone, victims inside.' We have to say it’s time to provide security in our schools. Nobody likes the idea of having to harden our schools, but that’s the only way we are going to defeat people who want to come in and harm innocent victims."
Here's the complete video:
At this writing, more than 200 comments have accumulated beneath Vallario's video, and some of them offer support. "He's a great sheriff!!" one person exclaimed, while another took a religious angle by way of this proclamation: "We need to put blame where blame is. Put God back in schools, churches, on court house lawns and such. If God offends those who choose to remove Him, they can go to hell."
However, the vast majority of remarks are negative. Some examples:
"This is simply out-dated, one-sided, divisive political rhetoric. Most important — it has not solved any problems. It's time for new ideas. It's time to expect a better vision from our leaders."
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"I am not the 'Hollywood elite.' I live in this valley, thankfully not in your county! I find your 'facts' incredibly offensive!"
"This is so unbelievably inappropriate for a government Facebook page. I will be calling the HR department of Garfield County asking that it be removed and something like this not be posted again."
"Thank you for letting me know your opinions. I will not be voting for you at reelection. May God save our county till reelection."
On the positive side, if Sheriff Vallario was hoping to stimulate debate with his comments, he certainly succeeded.