On the morning after the shootings in San Bernardino, California, the sheriff in Ulster County, south of Albany, posted a status update on Facebook. His post was directed to licensed handgun owners. He urged them to carry their firearm, as long as they know how to use it. So far, the post as been shared over 33,000 times.
The next day, the sheriff of Lewis County shared that update too and said he agrees.
Sheriff Mike Carpinelli admits Lewis County is a pretty safe place but the violence happening now across the country could happen anywhere.
“We’d all like to think that every county we live in the state of New York or across this country is safe. But we also have to use our heads," Carpinelli said.
People who’ve gone through the process of getting a licensed handgun, Carpinelli says, have done so with the intent of protecting themselves and their family.
“Obviously there is violence throughout this world. We have the God-given right to defend our life so not to exercise that is a sin itself," he said
As the debate over guns intensifies, Carpinelli says now is an essential time for gun owners to protect their Second Amendment right.
“When you exercise your right and your privileges, you maintain them. When you don’t, at times, we tend to lose them,” he said.
On Facebook, the debate in response to Carpinellis’s opinion rages on. A lot of people agreed with the Sheriff. But other Lewis County residents say they don’t trust all gun owners are responsible. One commenter wrote, “This is not the wild west.” Another wrote, “What would be the sense of having any police force if everyone is now going to be encouraged to be armed?”
Carpinelli says he doesn’t understand that logic.
“We encourage our youth when they turn 18 to go out and get driver licenses. Does that mean that every kid that gets their license runs their car into a school building or a parade? No. So I think it’s ridiculous for people to say that if you give someone the right to have a gun or a license to have it they’ll go out and do crazy things,” Carpinelli said.
Carpinelli says he thinks most licensed gun owners are responsible citizens who follow, not break, the law.