Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario shares thoughts on gun control |

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario shares thoughts on gun control

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last week, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario voiced his thoughts on the gun control debate Monday in a public video.

On "Just the Facts," the semi-monthly Facebook Live chat hosted on the Garfield County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, Vallario sounded off on "liberal politicians" and movie stars for attacking guns.

"Today we will be a little controversial, because quite frankly I'm angry and I've been angry all week, and the reason I'm angry is because we had yet another tragic school shooting in this country," he said on Facebook Monday.

"I'm also angry about how almost immediately people want to politicize this topic, and liberal politicians and Hollywood elite want to jump on this bandwagon of gun control," the sheriff said. "They immediately want to blame guns. They don't want to look at the real issues."

Rather than attacking guns and trying to take guns away from people, Vallario suggested addressing mental health concerns earlier and more effectively, as the shooter's mental health in Florida had "red flags" and was "overlooked," Vallario said.

"My opinion is, let's fix this problem by looking at the red flags: The warnings, the evil, the mental health issues that go on with these types of folks that want to commit these mass atrocities," Vallario explained. "Not fixing it by taking away guns. That's never going to happen in this country.

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"We need to blame the person behind the crime, and not the gun."

Vallario also referenced that thousands of people are killed from drunk drivers every year, and yet, "we don't blame the vehicle, we blame the driver."

He then reiterated that he believes blaming guns is a "cop-out" and that, rather than focusing the instruments, which he doesn't feel will solve the problem, to refocus what can be done to improve mental health awareness and services.

During his six-minute talk, Vallario also defended the National Rifle's Association and the AR-15 assault rifle, the weapon used in last Wednesday's shooting.

"There are half a dozen other sporting rifles out there that have the same caliber, the same magazine capacity, the same ballistics" he explained. "No different than several others that are available on the market."

He suggested increased security in schools as a better solution than gun control.

"For some reason our government has decided that although we carry guns in banks for security and malls for security and now even churches for security, we are not allowed to carry guns in schools for security," Vallario said. "It's time to provide security in our schools. Nobody likes the idea of hardening our schools, but that's the only way we are going to defeat people that want to come in and harm innocent victims."

Several Facebook commenters who picked up on Vallario's post were not pleased with the sheriff's position.

"Yes, criminals kill people but if we were able to outlaw the semi automatic and automatic weapons that are available on the market it would lesson the numbers killed in one clip. Pun intended," wrote Carbondale parent Erin Rigney, who has been sharing information on her own Facebook page urging local student participation in a pair of planned nationwide school walk-outs on March 24 and April 20 to oppose gun violence.

"He says, everyone reacts and jumps on the bandwagon, but does he realize our government never does anything to stop these semi and automatic products," Rigney offered.

She also criticized Vallario for dragging abortion into the video-recorded comments, in which he said liberals are quick to speak out against the senselessness of mass killings, but not abortion deaths.

"Perhaps if he and our government gave school kids, 'outside' the womb, as much reverence, protection and respect as fetuses, they would actually stop this madness and outlaw the semi and automatic weapons that are being used by criminals to kill our nations kids," Rigney wrote.

Some who commented directly to the video post were quick to support the sheriff.

“Thank you Sheriff Vallario, We The People who love this country thank you for having common sense and caring about our rights,” one respondant wrote. “Hollywood is all about evil and violence: They are the ‘do as we say, not as we do’ crowd.”

Others pointed out that the sheriff’s office is up for election this year. Vallario, a Republican, has filed as a candidate for re-election with the state.

Asked to comment on Vallario’s commentary, Garfield County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gretchen Brogdon wrote in an email:

“As a party, we are focusing on issues that can be addressed locally in our county. Gun legislation is a state and federal responsibility.”

Brogdon added, “We will be gathering ideas for our local platform through caucus on March 6 and making any amendments at our County Assembly on March 17. This is where we will hear from our party members if we should take a stance [on gun control] as a local party.”

Post Independent Editor John Stroud contributed to this report.