Even more sheriffs are urging Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves from terrorism and mass shootings.
A number of top cops in recent weeks have encouraged citizens who have carry permits to not leave the house without a gun.
In early December, Paul J. Van Blarcum, the sheriff in Ulster County, New York, took his message to Facebook.
“ATTENTION LICENSED HANDGUN OWNERS,” he wrote. “In light of recent events that have occurred in the United States and around the world I want to encourage citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to PLEASE DO SO.”
In early December Off The Grid News reported on one Florida sheriff – Wayne Ivey – who made similar comments and attracted national attention. But since then, other sheriffs have joined the chorus.
Van Blarcum and Ivey are not alone. Media reports indicate that sheriffs in a number of areas share their sentiments.
“The police cannot be everywhere,” Sullivan County (New York) Sheriff Michael Schiff wrote. “The Second Amendment and the laws of New York State give citizens the tools to defend themselves and their families from harm until law enforcement can arrive on the scene.”
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Said Sheriff Chris Blair of Marion County Florida: “If you are certified to carry a gun, I would like to encourage you to do so.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, told the media that his goal of “utilizing 250,000 citizens with concealed weapons is to stop the carnage, stop the killing before cops arrive.”
How Armed Citizens Help
At least one big city policeman — Chief James Craig of Detroit — agrees with the sheriffs. Like the sheriffs, Craig is urging citizens to carry concealed weapons to deter terror.
“A lot of Detroiters have CPLs (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug,” Craig told The Detroit News. “If you’re a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens.”
Craig continued, “We don’t have laboratories where we can test these theories, but there is something to the argument that terrorists want a high body count — and if they can only shoot a few people before they’re taken out themselves, it wouldn’t have the kind of impact they want.”
Off-Duty Cops, Too
Sheriff John Urquhart of Kings County (Seattle) in Washington urged his deputies to carry their guns when off duty in case of a terrorist attack. Like many law enforcement officers, Urquhart is concerned about ISIS sympathizers going after soft targets such as churches or shopping malls.
“What I am worried about, what causes me to lose sleep at night, is a homegrown terrorist,” Urquhart said. “That’s somebody that hasn’t come over from Syria, that’s not an official part of ISIS, but has been radicalized by ISIS by their propaganda. I’m afraid of a homegrown terrorist that does something here. It’s going to be a soft target.”
Urquhart did not urge citizens to arm themselves but he voiced no obvious opposition to the idea.
“I’m not going to be presumptuous and say somebody should carry a gun and I’m not going to be presumptuous and say somebody shouldn’t carry a gun,” Urquhart told radio host Jason Rantz. “To be armed is a very personal decision … and everybody has to make that decision themselves without input from me and frankly, anybody else.”
Not surprisingly, the sheriffs’ statements have stirred up some controversy, particularly in New York where Van Blarcum has been attacked on social media, The Poughkeepsie Journal reported.
“I didn’t take it as a Second Amendment issue,” Van Blarcum told Radio Woodstock. “I was reaching out to people who are already legally licensed to carry handguns, so it definitely wasn’t a Second Amendment issue. … We’re partners with the public in crime prevention. So these people are legally registered to carry, and I’m encouraging them if they’re comfortable to do that to carry.”
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