Some Florida sheriffs encourage licensed gun holders to be prepared for active-shooter situations

File photo AP

VIERA, Fla.- The terror attack that left 14 dead in California last week has two Florida sheriffs suggesting that citizens with the proper licenses carry their guns and be ready to use them until law enforcement arrives, if there is an active shooter situation. A third sheriff is recommending that citizens watch a dramatic video about an active shooter that was produced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey says in a video posted on the department’s Facebook page that citizens who legally carry firearms may be the best defense against somebody who opens fire in a public place.

In the video posted Sunday night, Ivey says “good” guys with guns may be the only thing that stops “bad” guys with guns. Ivey says that even if law enforcement responds in minutes, it may be too late because a shooter can kill many people in seconds. Ivey says people should run, hide or fight if they have no other choice.

Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair echoes Ivey’s stance on carrying guns.

On Tuesday, Blair released a video about how the sheriff’s office is working to prevent terror activity. Blair also talked about how the agency is preparing for possible acts of terror and he suggested that citizens prepare and consider how they would respond should terrorists strike.

Blair, who teaches concealed weapons classes, suggests that citizens who have gun permits, carry their gun with them. An excerpt of Sheriff Blair’s statement is below.

“If you are certified to carry a gun, I would like to encourage you to do so. Those who carry firearms responsibly and are confident in their abilities can—and should—be our first line of defense in an active shooter situation. A lot can happen in the minutes it may take for us to respond to those in need, and to have someone there to bring the fight to the attacker will help save lives.” -Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair.

Here in Tampa Bay, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco suggests that citizens watch a video that was produced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The dramatic video about an active shooter situation at an office sends a strong message about how people should respond: run, hide or fight. Learn more & see the video. 

The entire statement released by Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair is below-

“Recently, our country has seen a level of violence and hatred that we have never seen before. It has become routine to see mass shootings on the news on a weekly basis. This evil that preys on the innocent makes me sick to see. But even through all this, I want to let the citizens of Marion County know that we are doing everything in our power to prevent these acts of violence from happening here in our county.

We have a homeland security expert on staff to detect and prevent terrorist activity that may affect us in North Central Florida. I’m one of the chairs of the state-wide Regional Domestic Security Task Force for our region so we can stay in-the-know about threats that could impact Marion County citizens. We also have the #1 SWAT Team in the world who are trained, prepared and proven to protect our citizens at a moment’s notice.

We have accomplished a great deal to prepare our agency, but we’ve also taken additional steps to prepare our citizens. We have town hall meetings each month to brief our citizens on what they need to know and answer any questions they may have regarding homeland security. I hold and teach a concealed weapons class – which close to 600 Marion County citizens have attended – in order to make sure our citizens who want to be armed can lawfully do so. Most importantly, we make sure these citizens are skilled in firearms tactics so we have capable citizens out in our community who are confident and able to defend themselves and others safely.

If you are certified to carry a gun, I would like to encourage you to do so. Those who carry firearms responsibly and are confident in their abilities can—and should—be our first line of defense in an active shooter situation. A lot can happen in the minutes it may take for us to respond to those in need, and to have someone there to bring the fight to the attacker will help save lives.

If you are caught in one of these situations, there are ways to prevent becoming a victim. The FBI says the best way to survive an active shooter incident is to run, hide or fight.
Run away from the gunfire and get as far away from the scene as you can. Hide behind a locked door and barricade yourself inside a room if there is no other way to escape. And always fight. Never give up and fight your attacker with everything in your being and use objects that may be around you to defend yourself. These evil people do not expect retaliation and you may catch them off guard.

Remember, you are the eyes and ears of the men and women of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Just today, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, re-launched its “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. This is a reminder to our citizens that if you observe something suspicious or if something just doesn’t seem right, call 911 – it is always better to be safe than sorry. I would much rather send a deputy to make sure everything is safe than have something go unreported that leads to something much more serious.
Whatever your opinion may be of law enforcement, we are here to protect you with honor and to serve you with pride. We will be there in your hour of need. Because it’s our calling, it’s our destiny. Be safe this holiday season and don’t hesitate to call if you need our help. We will always be there.

God bless you and your families. And may God bless the United States of America.”

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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