Video: Candidate Pepper Sprays Himself in Gun Control Ad, Says It Could Stop School Shooters

A Democratic candidate for Colorado's 6th congressional district on Denver's east side recorded a video in which he blasted himself in the face with pepper spray to promote non-firearm methods of self-defense.

Levi Tillemann is a Denver businessman and the former special adviser for policy and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama administration. Tillemann took on a painful and hyperbolic stunt in order to differentiate himself from Democratic opponent Jason Crow as he seeks to win the June 26 primary and ultimately try to replace the seat currently held by Republican Michael Coffman. Tillemann released a video Friday touting "non-lethal self-defense tools" for teachers in lieu of recent proposals that educators should be given firearms to defend classrooms from school shooters.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 12
Democratic candidate Levi Tillemann, who is running for Colorado’s 6th congressional district on Denver’s eastside, recorded a video blasting himself in the face with pepper spray to promote non-lethal self-defense methods for teachers. Levi Tillemann: YouTube screenshot

The two-minute video shows Tillemann dramatically acting out how effective pepper spray is by shooting himself directly in the eyes with the lachrymatory agent typically composed of the inflammatory oil capsaicin, which is derived from the same chemical that makes chili peppers spicy.

"Empower schools and teachers with nonlethal self-defense tools, like this can of pepper spray," Tillemann says in the video as he prepares to spray himself in the face. "Pepper spray doesn't cost much, and it can be safely stored in a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency cabinet. But it's powerful and won't accidentally kill a kid...Trust me, this will stop anybody in their tracks."

"It's incredibly painful. Now I can't see anything," Tillemann says as he struggles to wash out his eyes with a nearby garden hose and soap. "Wow, that's intense."

Tillemann noted to the Independent that video surveillance was released showing a 2014 Seattle Pacific University shooter being disarmed by a man after he was pepper-sprayed.

The video also features brief comments from Narae Choi, described as an "immigrant, mother, new citizen," who holds her young child and says, "in just a few years, he'll be in school, and Donald Trump wants to give his teacher a gun?" Kevin Cox, a member of the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education, interjects saying: "More students have been killed in school shootings in 2018 than U.S. troops in combat operations. We need common sense gun control. But that's not enough. There are 310 million guns in the U.S. and millions of assault-style weapons."

Tillemann told the Independent he also supports more traditional, mainstream Democratic gun control proposals such as the assault-style weapons ban and forbidding people on no-fly lists from acquiring firearms. He said he also supports a 10-day waiting period for buying a gun and legislation that would require safe storage of household weapons. "What we're doing now and what we've been doing for decades isn't working. And, what this is is an effort to solve a problem and to an idea out there that can work and to start a conversation about using non lethal self defense methods that will save lives," said Tillemann.