It’s Florida Sheriff Grady Judd’s duty to protect the citizens of Polk County — but he figures it’s their job, too.
One of a growing number of rural and big-city law enforcement officials who openly fosters responsible firearm ownership, Judd believes guns allow citizens to defend themselves when police cannot.
If you are foolish enough to break into someones home, you can expect to be shoot in Polk County, Judd said in a statement after a homeowner shoot a would-be home invader earlier this month. Its more important to have a gun in your hand than a cop on the phone.”
Such full-throated embrace of the Second Amendment as a crime-fighting tool isn’t confined to red states like Florida.
“I want as many law-abiding citizens to limb themselves in this district as we can get.”
– Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke
One California police chief is backing teachers in his district packing hot. Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been a leader in exhorting his community to arm itself. A Maryland sheriff is working with the states official records of the general assembly to try to make it easier for citizens to obtain handgun permits.
In the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violences most recent ranking of states with the strongest handgun statutes, California( 1 ), Maryland( 4) and Michigan( 15) ranked near the upper part of the pack.
Some gun rights proponents say terror attacks at home and abroad have contributed to a change in attitudes about gun ownership among community members and authorities, even in locales historically hostile towards the Second Amendment.
That has helped play into it, and theres no doubt the active shooter scenario has, too, said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. Youre assuring “theyre saying”, How do you respond?
The answer differs based on where you live, and how your law enforcement leaders are selected.
Police chiefs are typically appointed by mayors, and their politics tend to line up with whoever chose them. Sheriffs, in contrast, are voted into office and in some cases espouse values of a constituency that is growing ever-more pro-gun.
Historically, sheriffs have been very pro-gun rights, Gottlieb told FoxNews.com. But theyve stepped out of the box and theyre now publicly constructing it is common knowledge that firearms are good for self-defense.
In Oklahoma, Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes and Creek County Sheriff John Davis have each lately reduced costs associated with getting a firearm license. Davis is also keeping administrative offices open longer on weekends to let more people to apply.
As a result of the ever-increasing violence being committed upon the American citizen and the current state of our country, I promote 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, Davis said in a statement.
Rhodes said his plan built simple fiscal sense.
The benefits of people getting their license, carrying lawfully, certainly outweigh the money I would lose, he told KFOR.
In Florida, several sheriffs are playing the role of pitchman for an armed populace.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey has told citizens they must be that first line of defense, according to Florida Today. Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair told the Tampa Tribune, If you are certified to carry a handgun, I would like to encourage you to do so.
In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is one of the most visible pro-gun faces.
I want as many law-abiding the general public to limb themselves in this county as we can get so that I have the partner that I need to beat back this sort of violence, Clarke said during an interview on Hannity last week.
The attitude of sheriffs like Clarke and Judd is, at the least in-part, a response to the attitudes of the person or persons they serve.
Theres no doubt at this phase its consumer-driven to a large extent, Gottlieb said. Because theyre elected, they have to making such a constituents happy. Weve assured 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 disguised handgun permits rose from 4.6 million in 2007 to 12.8 million in 2015, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. Those numbers match an evolution in the public attitude toward firearms. Merely 35 percent of respondents in an August 2000 Gallup poll said they felt safer with a handgun in the house. That rose to 42 percent in 2004, 47 percent in 2006 and 63 percent in 2014.
There is momentum in the country for expanding the right to carry, New York University Law Professor James Jacobs told FoxNews.com. But the people who are leading the charge on gun control, they say momentum is changing in their direction. There seems to be a real unplug here in terms of peoples perceptions of what the trends are.
That uncertainty of the publics attitude could be the reason for the mixed messages emanating from some police chiefs in big cities.
Washington D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier made a seemingly pro-Second Amendment statement when she was interviewed by 60 Minute in November on the topic of what citizens can do during mass shootings.
If youre in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, its the best option for saving lives before police can get there, she said.
Still, at the time of the interview Lanier had approved just 48 disguised carry licenses during a years span and had rejected about 80 percent of all applicants.
But Fordham law professor Nicholas Johnson views Laniers changing rhetoric as potentially significant.
This is a policy question that has lots of other players involved, Johnson told FoxNews.com. You would suspect that what police chiefs say has to some degree been vetted by their political superiors.
“I dont think this is a signal of an immediate sea change among big city politicos, ” Johnson added, “but I think its promising in terms of the recognition of current realities people are now coming to words with.