A New York Sheriff’s post on social media about firearms in light of the San Bernardino mass shooting is drawing mixed reactions as the country continues to remain divided over gun legislation.
Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum took to Facebook on Thursday to encourage carry permit-holding residents from the area to exercise their second amendment right to carry a firearm.
“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,” the sheriff wrote.
“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,” the post continued.
Van Blarcum’s statement comes one day after Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire during a holiday party for the San Bernardino County health department, where Farook worked.
The married couple was killed during a shootout with police hours after the carnage, which left 14 people dead and 21 wounded.
“I also want to remind all Police/Peace Officers both active duty and retired to please carry a weapon whenever you leave your house. We are the thin blue line that is entrusted in keeping this country safe, and we must be prepared to act at any given moment,” Van Blarcum wrote.
In about three hours since the post was published, it had been shared more than 12,000 times and was liked more than 8,000 times with no signs of slowing down. More than 1,000 people had commented on the post, sharing their varied views on the statement.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You are ENCOURAGING people to arm themselves at a time of heightened fear nationally and internationally? How about you encourage them to take a safety class on effective use? Or how to report dangerous situations to the police effectively? Or to not make discriminatory judgments about people of different races? Or what to do when they see something suspicious? How about anything other than what you just did,” one impassioned commenter wrote.
“Thank you Sheriff for not falling prey to political correctness and speaking the truth,” another person wrote.
Ulster County is located in the state’s mid-Hudson region of the Hudson Valley.
A sheriff in Arizona echoed Van Blarcum’s sentiments, saying a day before the shooting in California that gun owners who live in the area should do what they must to fight terrorism and mass shootings.
“I'm just talking about the areas where you have large crowds and someone pulls out the gun and starts shooting. Maybe somebody with a concealed weapon takes the guy down," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, KPHO reported.
Nearly a quarter-million Arizona residents reportedly own guns.
Washington D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently said on 60 Minutes that while it is not the ideal, fighting back in an active shooter situation will save lives because police will never get to the scene fast enough to completely prevent casualties.
She further explained her “run, hide, fight” advice on Wednesday, saying during an interview with NBC: “Given the amount of time with which these active shooter situations unfold, (with) most of them happening, start to finish, in 10 minutes, you know, the best police officers in the country are going to get there in five to seven (minutes).”
President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the shooting needed to serve as a push for America to develop better gun control measures.
“We all have a part to play. As the investigation moves forward, it’s going to be important for all of us, including our legislatures, to see what we can do to make sure that when an individual decides they want to do somebody harm, we make it a little harder for them to do it,” Obama said. “Right now, it’s just too easy. We’re going to have to, I think, search ourselves as a society.”
News outlets also seem divided in how they view the incident, as the New York Post changed its front cover headline from “Murder Mission” to “Muslim Killers,” and the New York Daily News criticized politicians who offered their prayers for those affected by the violence, saying on its Thursday cover “God Isn’t Fixing This.”
The husband and wife did not leave a note behind to explain the motive behind their attack, nor did they say anything while they fired into the crowd at the Inland Regional Center, according to reports.
Officials found a cache of weapons and ammunition in their home and SUV, including hundreds of unspent rounds, two rifles and two pistols.
All the weapons and ammo recovered in the car were legally purchased three to four years ago, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.