In light of "recent events that have occurred in the United States and around the world," it's time for people to stop leaving their guns at home, according to the sheriff of Ulster County, NY. In a Facebook post, Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum encourages "citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to PLEASE DO SO," and to make sure they are "comfortable and proficient" with the weapon, reports the Times Herald-Record, which notes that Van Blarcum is a Democrat. The sheriff also urges all police and 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," he writes.
Unsurprisingly, the sheriff's post was extremely controversial, with thousands of heated comments posted on Facebook and elsewhere and even a petition asking him to rescind his "illogical" opinion, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports. In neighboring counties, sheriffs are split: Sullivan County Sheriff Michael Schiff tells the Herald-Record that cops can't be everywhere and "comfortable and proficient" gun owners should carry their guns around, while Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois tells the paper that armed citizens, who don't have the same training as police, could end up causing confusion in an active-shooter situation. "How do the police know who the bad guys are?" he says. "There are too many collateral issues to be concerned with." (By one measure, there have been more mass shootings than days so far in 2015.)