PUTNAM COUNTY, N.Y. -- Following a statement by Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum encouraging licensed handgun owners to carry weapons that prompted a firestorm of public reaction -- both pro and con -- Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith issued a statement of his own.
Van Blarcum's position was posted on the Ulstate County Sheriff's Office Facebook page on Thursday.
Smith's comments follow highly-publicized shootings including last month's terrorist attack in Paris and Wednesday's attack at a Social Services center in San Bernardino, Calif., where 14 people were killed by a man and a woman.
Smith's statement reads: “As the residents of Putnam County know, I am a staunch supporter of the right of the people to keep and bear arms in accordance with the Second Amendment of the Constitution and consistent with federal and state firearms laws."
Smith added: "I also recognize the legal rights of individuals to protect themselves and their families against harm. I believe that individuals have the prerogative to decide what lawful steps they will take to provide for the defense of themselves and their loved ones.”
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnwright posted this on his blog on Thursday night:
"I have complete confidence in Paul. I find him to be thoughtful and direct and a bona fide asset to our community that he proudly serves."
Carnwright added: "Though I fully support our right to bear arms and to defend ourselves I am not convinced more guns in the hands of untrained or unskilled civilians is the answer and nor do I believe does the sheriff. I discourage anyone from misreading the sheriff’s comments."
State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, a Democrat from Westchester County, agreed: "We have guns in the hands of the wrong people. ... We do not want a public response. We want a trained response."
"The 'Wild West' solution is not appropriate for New York,'' Abinanti continued. "If the sheriff of Ulster County is not confident in the capability of his officers to respond, then he should be asking for state help."
There are roughly 10,000 handgun-permit holders living within Ulster County, which has a population of about 180,000 people. As of Friday, the sheriff's Facebook post got nearly 24,000 likes and nearly 29,000 shares.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press office has not replied to Daily Voice's request for reaction.
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