Sheriffs across the U.S. are calling their citizens “the first line of defense” against crime, a call to arms that some say is a new phenomenon after terrorist attacks at home and abroad. The Washington Post reports that a Wisconsin sheriff wants “as many law-abiding citizens to arm themselves in this country as we can get.” One in New York state told people who are licensed to carry a gun to “please do so.” A Florida sheriff said, “I can tell you the probability of needing a firearm is remote, but it's more important to have a gun in your hand than a cop on the phone.”The proclamations come after suicide bombers and gunmen terrorized Paris, a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and two attackers gunned down a crowd at a social services center in San Bernardino, Ca.
Brevard County, Fl., Sheriff Wayne Ivey addressed citizens last month to ask for help. “If a terrorist attack or active-shooter scenario can happen in California, Texas, South Carolina or Paris, it can happen right here in our own backyard,” he said in a video titled “Enough is Enough.” “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. If you're a person who is legally licensed to carry a firearm, now is the time, more than ever, to realize that you – and you alone – may very well be the first line of defense for you, your family and others around you in a terrorist or active shooter-based scenario. Gun-rights groups say the terrorist attacks have led to a change in many people's perspectives about guns. Research shows fear of terrorism has hit its highest point in 10 years – and many are looking for ways to protect themselves and their families from harm. The number of concealed handgun permits increased from 4.6 million in 2007 to more than 12.8 million in 2015, says the Crime Prevention Research Center.