Draw your weapons.
That’s what Sheriff Joe Arpaio is urging nearly a quarter-million Arizona gun owners to do to fight terrorism and mass shooters.
On Tuesday, the so-called “Toughest Sheriff in America” said he cannot guarantee the public’s safety and called on them to take matters into their own hands if necessary.
“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,” Arpaio said.
Specifically, Arpaio was looking to the 250,000 Arizonans who carry concealed weapons permits to help keep the peace.
But there are some in law enforcement who are calling this a bad idea.
Steve Henry, chief deputy of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said untrained gun owners could add to chaotic situations at big events, increasing the risk to innocent bystanders.
“Sometimes it’s not proper to pull the trigger because the collateral damage is not worth it,” Henry said. “We don’t want to walk into a gun fight between anybody, much less a gun fight where people are untrained.”
Arpaio’s comments came in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Mali.
As such, the percentage of Americans who think a terrorist strike is somewhat or very likely to occur in the homeland in the next few months has skyrocketed.
According to a CBS poll, 69 percent of Americans believe an attack is imminent.
Arpaio referred to the terrorist group ISIS, or ISIL, as a reason gun owners should be on the lookout. He also spoke about the Colorado man accused of killing three people at the Planned Parenthood last week.
Had someone been armed, the sheriff said, maybe he or she could have stopped the shooter.
“I’m concerned about what’s going on. Just think about Colorado. If there was someone in there with a concealed weapon that guy would have been shot down,” he said.
Arpaio is not the first politician to call for more guns after a tragedy.
Three years ago, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert proposed arming more citizens after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut where 20 school children and six adult staff members were killed.
At the time, Gohmert said: “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office,” referring to the school’s principal.
There have been some cases where an armed civilian stopped a mass killer.
In 1997, an assistant principal in Pearl, MS, fatally shot an armed student after he had killed two other students and injured several others.
Still, it appears to be a rare occurrence. Regardless, Arpiao believes armed citizens is one way to keep the public safe.
“All I’m saying is if it’s controversial, then OK, let it be controversial, but we have to protect the public,” he said.