by Joseph De Avila, WSJ:
An upstate sheriff created a stir online Thursday after he posted aFacebook message encouraging licensed handgun owners to keep their weapons on them in light of this week’s mass shooting in California.
Ulster County handgun owners should be proficient with their weapons and knowledgeable of state firearms laws to ensure the safety of themselves and others, according to the message posted by Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum.
He also encouraged active-duty and retired police and peace officers such as constables to take their weapons with them whenever they leave their homes.
“I urge you to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm,” Sheriff Van Blarcum wrote in the message posted about noon.
There are more than 10,000 permits to own and carry a handgun in Ulster County, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Van Blarcum’s comments came one day after 14 people were killed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif. It was the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Ulster County is a rural county in the Catskill Mountains about 70 miles north of New York City.
Dan Torres, a councilman in New Paltz, N.Y., said the sheriff’s comments wouldn’t solve the problem of mass shootings.
“I think the post creates more hysteria than solves any problems,” Mr. Torres said. “I respect the sheriff, but I don’t think that was the best post at this time considering the national circumstances.”
Sheriff Van Blarcum, who was elected to his third four-year term in 2014, also had a lot of defenders.
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