A growing number of law enforcement officials across the country are calling on citizens to arm themselves for self-defense and as a way to prevent crime, a significant trend on a number of levels, perhaps most importantly because of what it reflects about a broader pro-Second Amendment movement gaining momentum among Americans.
In the wake of several high-profile mass shootings and an increase in gang violence in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, more and more law enforcement officials have been encouraging citizens with gun licenses to make use of them. The call stands in stark contrast to the increasingly aggressive attempts by the gun control left to vilify gun ownership.
As Fox News.com reports, the growing list of those calling for citizens to carry includes Detroit Police Chief James Craig, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, multiple sheriffs from Florida—including Polk County's Grady Judd, Brevard County's Wayne Ivey, and Marion County's Chris Blair—and Oklahoma's Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes and Creek County Sheriff John Davis. The message: responsible citizens are often the "first line of defense."
"I want as many law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in this county as we can get," said Sheriff Clarke.
“It’s more important to have a gun in your hand than a cop on the phone," said Sheriff Judd in response to a homeowner in his county defending himself from an intruder this month.
"If an international threat or a domestic threat believes that the citizenry may be armed, they're going to go elsewhere," said Sheriff Rhodes, whose office recently waived all sheriff's fees for getting a gun license. "The benefits of people getting their license, carrying lawfully, certainly outweigh that money I would lose."
So why are law enforcement officials getting more vocal about the importance of an armed citizenry? It seems to be part of a larger trend in the U.S.
Alan Gottleib of the Second Amendment Foundation told Fox News that the rise of terror attacks both at home and overseas as well as a number of active shooter scenarios have resulted in more Americans viewing arming themselves as a way to potentially save lives. "Historically, sheriffs have been very pro-gun rights," said Gottleib. "But they’ve stepped out of the box and they’re now publicly making it known that firearms are good for self-defense."
Florida Sheriff John Davis echoed that sentiment in a recent statement, announcing, "As a result of the ever-increasing violence being committed upon the American citizen and the current state of our country, I encourage each citizen of Creek County who is legally able to fully utilize their Second Amendment right ‘to keep and bear arms,’ as legally prescribed by the Oklahoma Defense Act."
The growing number of law enforcement personnel—particularly Sheriffs, who are elected directly by the people—reinforces the notion that many Americans are not buying the anti-gun arguments of the left.
"There’s no doubt at this point it’s consumer-driven to a large extent," Gottlieb said of the increasingly vocal defense by officials of the right to arms. "Because they’re elected, they have to make their constituents happy. We’ve seen a record number of firearms sold. And people come in to get permits to carry, and you want to be customer-service friendly, and you want to make it easier – or you might not get re-elected."
"The number of concealed handgun permits soared from 4.6 million in 2007 to 12.8 million in 2015, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center," reports FoxNews.com, which draws a parallel between the rise in permits and Gallup polls showing a steady increase over the last decade and half of support for owning a gun for self-protection. In 2000, 35 percent said they felt safer with a gun in the house; in 2014, that number had risen to 63 percent.