Colorado rock attacks show limits of gun control laws

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A 20-year-old woman was killed and at least two other people were left with injuries in the Denver area on Thursday as the result of rocks being thrown through the windows of their vehicles, and local authorities have so far been unable to identify the suspect or suspects in the attack.


The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says at least five vehicles were targeted by the unknown assailant, including the Chevy Spark driven by 20-year-old Alexa Bartell, who was on the phone with a friend when she went quiet.

Bartell’s friend “used an app to locate Alexa’s phone,” and the friend went to the location along Indiana Street, Jefferson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said. She saw Bartell’s Spark off the road in a field.

“As she approached, she could see Alexa was inside and was dead,” Kelley said. The friend dialed 911.

Two drivers injured in the other attacks suffered minor injuries. They were in good condition Thursday.

… “Rocks were thrown at windshields of moving vehicles,” Kelley said. Three of the rocks shattered windshields and remained inside vehicles. Police recovered those. “The rocks are 4 to 6 inches wide and weighed 3 to 5 pounds,” she said.

You won’t hear Shannon Watts or any other gun control activist talk about these horrific crimes; not only because they didn’t involve a firearm, but because crimes like this make it blatantly obvious that we need to be dealing with the individual and not whatever weapon they might use. Is Bartell’s death any more acceptable or excusable because some twisted soul decided to pitch a rock through her windshield instead of shooting at her? Of course not, but the gun control lobby can’t offer up any so-called solutions for these criminal acts. It’s not like we can impose a waiting period on rock purchases, or require background checks for all transfers of minerals larger than a pebble.


Horrific crimes like these also demonstrate the fundamental problem with “red flag” laws; the myopic focus on someone’s ability to legally possess a firearm instead of the supposed dangerousness that makes them a risk to themselves or others. We don’t know who’s responsible for these attacks, but it’s at least possible that the unknown suspect has already been the subject of a “red flag” order and is now roaming around chucking heavy rocks down onto the windshields of passing motorists because the courts deemed them no longer a danger to themselves or others once an Extreme Risk Protection Order was issued. “Red flag” laws aren’t really about dangerous people, and they’re certainly not about mental health. A rock can be just as deadly as a gun, but anyone subject to a “red flag” order can still pick up a chunk of granite and send it through the windshield of a moving car, stab someone with their legally-owned knife, or douse someone in gasoline and light them on fire with their lawfully-possessed matches.

Every act of wanton violence in this country is the result of choices made by an individual; whether to pull the trigger, plunge the blade, strike a blow, or hurl heavy stones. Pinning the blame on an inanimate object or believing that we can somehow criminal-proof the country as long as we pass enough gun control laws isn’t just a violation of our right to self-defense. It comes with a human cost; lives lost, families broken, needless heartbreak and grief because we’re looking for answers in the wrong direction. We have to deal with the people who are doing these things, not their weapon of choice, to bring crime to heel.


Colorado’s done a terrible job of that over the past decade, with lawmakers approving a number of new restrictions on legal gun owners while violent crime has steadily increased. Democrats have pursued a de-incarceration approach even as they’ve put more gun laws on the books. There’s also a “severe lack” of inpatient mental health beds for those in crisis, as well as a broader shortage of mental health workers at state-run facilities. In far too many cases, criminals aren’t getting the justice they deserve and those with mental health issues aren’t getting the help and treatment they need, but the anti-gun Democrats in the state legislature would rather do things like make it easier to sue gun makers for the actions of violent criminals or expand the state’s “red flag” law than seriously address the dire problems (of their own devising) in the criminal justice and mental health systems.

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