While many police chiefs are anti-gun—in large part because they are appointed by anti-gun mayors—county sheriffs are a different breed. Elected by their constituents, sheriffs are more likely to tell it like it is when it comes to violent crime, gun control and self-defense.
An excellent example is Milwaukee Country Sheriff David A. Clarke, who has repeatedly been at the forefront of addressing the importance of law-abiding citizens’ ability to defend themselves against violent criminals.
Now, in the aftermath of last week’s terror attack in San Bernardino, sheriffs across the country are speaking out like never before. And they are sharing a similar, common-sense message.
The day following that attack in California, Ulster County, N.Y., Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum took to Facebook to rally his residents to be the county’s front lines against terrorism.
“Let there be no mistake … The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” — Brevard County, Fla., Sheriff Lee Ivey“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,” Van Blarcum wrote in a Facebook post. “I urge you to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm. To ensure the safety of yourself and others, make sure you are comfortable and proficient with your weapon, and knowledgeable of the laws in New York state with regards to carrying a weapon and when it is legal to use it.”
While such a statement would seem extreme within the confines of New York City, sentiments about firearms and self-defense are quite different two hours to the north, in upstate New York.
Just as they are in more southern states like Florida, where Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey made a similarly impassioned plea.
“Let there be no mistake … The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Ivey said. “If you’re a person who is legally licensed to carry a firearm, now is the time more than ever to realize that you, and you alone, may very well be the first line of defense for you and your family.”
In Boone County, Ky., Sheriff Michael A. Helmig took it a step further in a Facebook post on Dec. 6, reminding armed citizens that they have a responsibility to protect others.
“I have reminded my current and retired deputy sheriffs of their responsibility to carry their firearms while off-duty,” Helmig wrote in the post. “I would also like to remind the people who have applied, been trained, and issued a license to carry a Concealed Deadly Weapon (CCDW) that they also have a responsibility to carry their firearm, which they are proficient with, for the safety of themselves and others.”
Helmig concluded that armed citizens are critical to the defense of our nation and our freedom.
“Each of us, as proud Kentuckians, has a great responsibility to uphold the values of the United States Constitution and protect this great nation from acts of foreign or domestic terrorism,” he wrote. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”“As your sheriff, I encourage all who are LEGALLY ELIGIBLE and TRAINED to carry concealed weapons to do so.” — Stephens County, Okla., Sheriff Wayne McKinney
In Stephens County, Okla., Sheriff Wayne McKinney declared that the shooting in San Bernardino proved that the nation is under attack, and that armed citizens must be the first line of defense.
“As your sheriff, I encourage all who are LEGALLY ELIGIBLE and TRAINED to carry concealed weapons to do so,” McKinney wrote on Facebook. “I do not want any of us to be helpless victims if we should fall under attack.
“We may never be able to stop someone from attempting to carry out a violent attack, but we, as armed citizens, can mitigate the damage.”
In less than 24 hours, the post was liked almost 2,500 times and shared more than 2,300.
Meanwhile, sheriffs in three Missouri counties—Laclede, St. Clair and Vernon—have responded to the San Bernardino attack by lowering the cost of applying for concealed-carry permits.
“The government has already said they can’t keep track of all these home-grown terrorists, so we can’t be everywhere at the same time, so people have to be able to defend themselves,” said Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt, who is lowering the application cost from $100 to $65. “Paris, as you know, has one of the strictest gun laws in the world—people can’t just go out and buy a gun like they can in the United States.”
This response from sheriffs is quite interesting, given the fact that anti-gun politicians like President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton are taking the opposite tack and calling for more restrictive gun-control laws. They simply don’t believe that armed, law-abiding gun owners can be a legitimate force in fighting violent crime.
Those unsure who has the most effective solution to criminal violence and terror attacks—gun-ban politicians or county sheriffs—should ask themselves a simple question. Who do you trust more: anti-gun, out-of-touch beltway politicians bent on curtailing your constitutional rights, or law enforcement leaders who go to work every day in America’s heartland to protect and serve their constituents?