Gov. John Hickenlooper Comments On The Planned Parenthood Shooting & Raises Several Crucial Issues
The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting reignited an ongoing nationwide debate regarding gun control as well as whether this incident should be classified as an act of domestic terrorism. The governor of Colorado took to CNN's State of the Union on Sunday to discuss the tragedy, and John Hickenlooper's Planned Parenthood shooting comments call for a more reasonable rhetoric in the face of such senseless violence. Hickenlooper repeatedly stressed the importance of a toned down, rational discussion following the shooting, which left nine injured and three dead. Hickenlooper said:
Certainly, it is a form of terrorism, and maybe in some way it's a function of the inflammatory rhetoric we see ... I'm in no way trying to limit free speech. I think that our community, the United States of America, ought to begin a discussion. How do you begin to tone back the inflammatory rhetoric that, in some ways it might be good for selling products and advertisements or whatever, but in some way it is inflaming people to the point where they can't stand it and they go out and they lose connection with reality in some way and commit these acts of unthinkable violence.
The Colorado governor said that he is committed to maintaining freedom of speech but has been urging "caution when we discuss some of these issues," claiming bloggers and talk shows are some of the main perpetrators of rhetoric meant to "get people to that point of boiling over and just intense anger."
Hickenlooper also added a suggestion regarding gun control that might have made a huge difference in the instance of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting. Shooting suspect Robert Lewis Dear had previously been accused of domestic violence as well as leering and animal cruelty. Charges were never filed on the domestic violence allegation, the "peeping tom" charges were dismissed, and he was found not guilty of animal cruelty. Hickenlooper suggested adding a component to background checks that would disallow those with a history of domestic violence to obtain a gun. Hickenlooper said:
If, somehow, a level of domestic violence made it much more difficult to get a weapon, maybe we'd not only keep our community safer but also cut down on domestic violence. I'm just throwing that out as one of many things we've got to think about of how to try and keep guns out of the hands of people that are violent and unstable.
He was also critical of the current system currently in place, insinuating that the universal backgrounds that his state had passed weren't adding enough protection. The Democratic governor called Colorado Springs and surrounding areas more conservative, estimating that more people had conceal carry licenses. Hickenlooper maintains that the amount of legal guns in the area simply made no difference in this incident, however.
Sunday's interview on CNN marks the first major statement issued by Hickenlooper following the shooting. He had previously offered condolences to the Colorado Springs community and requested that flags across Colorado be lowered to half-staff to honor shooting victims. Hickenlooper's comments highlight an ongoing debate about gun control while also shedding light on a reactionary style of discussion that appears to have further divided the country when it comes to pressing issues.