A Democratic Candidate Pepper-Sprayed Himself In A Campaign Video To Talk About Gun Reform?

Apparently it hurt.

Levi Tillemann, a Democratic congressional candidate in Colorado, is running on a platform that aims to reduce gun violence in schools.

In a recent campaign video to promote one of his policies, Tillemann....gets...pepper-sprayed. “Trust me, this will stop anybody in their tracks,” he says to the camera right before being sprayed in his eyes.

Facebook: video.php

"We realized that Washington isn't doing anything to fix the problem. That's shocking in light of the inspiring activism of the students of Douglas High School, the marches and the ongoing bloodshed. Politicians are talking, but they aren't doing. Republicans and Democrats just aren't solving the problem," Tillemann told BuzzFeed News.

"So we took a step back and said 'Hey, guns in schools is a recipe for disaster. But wanting to protect your kids and students is instinctual. Is there a better way to do that?'"

In the video, Tillemann suggests every school and teacher should be "empower[ed] ... with nonlethal self-defense tools, like this can of pepper spray" to stop active school shooters.

Tillemann is then seen immediately and ferociously dunking his head into a container.

And hosing water directing into his very swollen eye sockets.

"It's just unbearable. It's like lava in your eyes," he says.

Facebook: leviforcolorado

"It was the most painful thing I've ever experienced," he told BuzzFeed News. "I have 10 brothers and sisters, and until my early teens I think I had more stitches than all of them combined. But this was pain at another level. I knew it would be."

Tillemann reverts back to his normal self and reiterates the key points in the final seconds of the video. And... that was a real political campaign advert.

Facebook: leviforcolorado

"Police officers are regularly required to be pepper sprayed in the course of training in order to better serve and protect our communities," Tillemann said.

"So I felt that the personal discomfort of taking a shot of pepper spray to the face was a small price to pay to make our schools safer."


This post has been updated to include quotes from Tillemann.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.