Gov. Hickenlooper: Clinic Shooting 'A Function of the Inflammatory Rhetoric From Bloggers and Talk Shows'

By Susan Jones | November 30, 2015 | 7:14am EST
An El Paso County Sheriff's tactical response vehicle leaves the scene on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo., after Friday's deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic. (Daniel Owen/The Gazette via AP)

( - The mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday "is a form of terrorism," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

"And maybe in some way, it's a function of the inflammatory rhetoric that we see on all -- I mean, so many issues now, there are bloggers, and, you know, talk shows where they really focus on trying to get people to that point of boiling over and just intense anger," the Democrat said.

"And I think maybe it's time to look at, how do we tone down some of that rhetoric? Obviously, no one is going to try and reduce free speech in this country, but that rhetoric clearly is -- if people are in some way emotionally unstable or psychologically unbalanced, that intensity of rhetoric sometimes seems to pull a trigger in their brain that they lose contact with what reality is."

Host Brianna Keilar asked the governor, "Are you calling for changes in blogging, in video games?"

"No, no, I'm not -- I'm in no way trying to limit free speech," Hickelooper replied.

"I think that the -- our community, right, the United States of America, ought to begin a discussion looking at, how do you begin to tone back the inflammatory rhetoric that, in some ways, it might be good for, I don't know, 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.

"I'm not saying that we restrict people's freedom of speech -- nowhere, nowhere near that. But I think we should have a discussion of, you know, at least urging caution when we discuss some of these issues, so that we don't get people to a point of going out and committing senseless violence."

In mid-October, Planned Parenthood announced that it would "no longer accept any reimbursement" for "fetal tissue donation." The abortion provider dismissed the "ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in fetal tissue donation."

The announcement followed the release of a series of gruesome, undercover videos showing various Planned Parenthood officials and staffers clearly, and cavalierly, discussing the prices for choice body parts harvested from aborted babies.

The videos shocked many Americans and prompted renewed calls for a ban on taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

On Sunday, Hickenlooper noted that Colorado law now requires universal background checks for anyone wishing to purchase a gun. Then he suggested that "conservative" Colorado Springs might be the problem:

"But at the same time, in Colorado Springs, it's one of the more conservative parts of the state. We probably have more people that have licenses for concealed weapons, probably more guns around. That didn't help," he said, although he didn't explain how having "more guns around" contributed to an apparently unstable man shooting up a clinic.

"I think, as a -- as a state, but as a country, we have got a lot more thinking about this, of how to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of people that are unstable."

Hickenlooper didn't say where the suspect got his gun, and police have not released any information about that.

The Associated Press reported that the suspect has had several run-ins with police. In 1997, his then-wife said he hit her and pushed her out a window after locking her out of their home. A neighbor accused him of peeping into her home, but a Peeping Tom charge against Dear was dismissed a month after it was filed.

Police also were called to his home after his neighbor's dog was shot with a pellet gun.

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