A video message from Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap in response to a Colorado visit from President Barack Obama has gone viral.
Heap’s online posting, “A Colorado Sheriff Responds to President Obama,” went up on April 3, the day of the president’s visit to support Colorado’s gun-control legislation. In it, Heap calls Obama’s visit “political showmanship.”
Within days of posting his video message, the clip had more than 454,000 hits on YouTube and 65,000 “shares” on Facebook, making the video an online hit.
The response at the sheriff’s office has been overwhelming, Heap said. Since the video’s launch, Heap has received thousands of emails, three job offers and two marriage proposals, and has spoken to people from nearly 40 states.
“This is a very real and successful form of communicating our message,” Heap said.
Heap’s message is critical of lawmakers’ reaction to gun violence with what he calls restrictive gun legislation. Colorado’s Legislature this session passed gun-control measures that Heap said affect gun commerce but have no effect on criminals who commit violent crimes.
The legislation was driven by urban lawmakers with an agenda that reflects urban crime trends, Heap said.
“The president flew in (April 3) from Washington, D.C., which has the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, and he wants to tell Colorado what to do,” Heap says in his video. “We are frustrated with this kind of political hypocrisy. Mr. Obama has fought vehemently for the right to use drone strikes in foreign countries without cumbersome bureaucratic oversight …. However, his domestic policy has been to legislatively carpet-bomb law-abiding citizens with excessive restrictions.”
Heap was among 15 sheriffs from across Colorado who convened at a park a short distance from the Denver Police Department academy — where Obama was speaking — in a show of protest against Obama’s visit.
Obama supporter and Elizabeth resident Connie Lehman lauded the effort to move toward stricter gun control. With new restrictions on gun magazines and tightened regulations for background checks, Colorado’s lawmakers made decisions that “make sense,” Lehman said.
“Guns are to kill people with and one bullet is enough,” Lehman said. “(Gun violence) just makes me sick. In Colorado we’ve had (Columbine), now the (Aurora) theater. Nothing is ever going to happen because of the gun lobby. What’s it going to take?”
Heap included Colorado legislators in his critique, calling their policies part of a social agenda with no commitment to reducing crime, he said.
Heap’s video generated reactions from people from across the country, and Heap said about 80 percent of people who emailed him supported his viewpoint. His YouTube account, at ecso2027, reflected on April 17 nearly 2,000 comments, most lauding his message.
Included among the comments was a post from a man named Larry Jones, who said, “Sheriff Heap, please come to my county so I can vote for you!!”