|Apparently the story was supposed to be a reminder to the rest of the Hollywood communists to come out in support of those latent, "heroic" communists who were being threatened by McCarthy. |
I'm guessing that the sheriff character is an allegory(?) for each person who was called to testify before HUAC and asked, "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?", and that the outlaw gang lead by Frank Miller is supposed to stand for Senator McCarthy and the inquest panel. And oh yes, the frightened communists in the Hollywood community are supposed to be represented by the reticent townspeople.
As we see it, however, the sheriff character describes the nonconformist innovator, and the outlaw gang describes the parasite culture-mob, and the townspeople represent other would-be "prime movers" who sit idly by and think they'll be safer that way.
Personally, I think only the second interpretation is anywhere near appropriate.