New York City isn’t the only place beefing up security for New Year’s Eve festivities. Cities across the country are on high alert and for good reason.
Last week, top security officials briefed Obama, who is currently vacationing in Hawaii, of a threat which originated from overseas. The chatter of possible attacks in New York, Los Angeles and Washington between Christmas and New Year’s, while uncorroborated, is still shaping how cities are enforcing security according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the matter.
In a year that saw the first major act of terrorism on American soil since 9/11, one senior counterterrorism official is offered a unique viewpoint of the situation. That although the number of Americans killed by terrorists may be under 20 this year, it’s all about perspective:
“That’s a bad weekend in Chicago,” the official said, adding. “Let us worry about the terrorists; Americans should go do their celebrations. They should be vigilant, but they shouldn’t let these threats keep them from leaving home and living their lives.”
Along with increased police presence nationwide; from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton sending approximately 6,000 officers out in Times Square, to the chief of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department issuing the largest deployment of officers to the Rose Bowl Parade, game, and celebration at Grand Park afterward, cities in between are being pro-active as well.
A growing number of law enforcement officials are encouraging citizens to carry at all times for self defense and protection against violent attacks not just on New Year’s Eve, but every day. LEO’s know they can’t be in all places at all times, and are actively reaching out to strong, law-abiding citizens to help them protect their communities.
One of the first requests came from Ulster County, New York, Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum, who took to Facebook just hours after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. In part, Van Blarcum’s post stated:
“I urge you to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm. To ensure the safety of yourself and others, make sure you are comfortable and proficient with your weapon, and knowledgeable of the laws in New York State with regards to carrying a weapon and when it is legal to use it.”
Sheriff Mike Carpinelli of Lewis County, Washington, posted Van Blarcum’s message on his own Facebook page, saying “A friend of mine sent me this it was posted by a fellow Sheriff on Facebook and I TOTALLY agree with what he is saying and would urge the people of Lewis County to do the same. Be safe.”
Requests like these from New York to Washington are resonating nationwide, even prompting Brevard County Florida Sheriff Wayne Ivey to create a video message. “Like each of you, I’ve had enough of terrorists and others deciding to target US citizens because they want to make a statement. If you’re a person who is legally licensed to carry a firearm, now is the time more than ever to realize you and you alone may be the first line of defense for you, your family, and others around you in a terrorist or active shooter scenario.” Ivey says in the video.
Boone County, Kentucky Sheriff Michael A. Helmig’s call to arms was more pointed, “I have reminded my current and retired deputy sheriffs of their responsibility to carry their firearms while off-duty,” Helmig wrote in the post. “I would also like to remind the people who have applied, been trained, and issued a license to carry a Concealed Deadly Weapon (CCDW) that they also have a responsibility to carry their firearm, which they are proficient with, for the safety of themselves and others.”
Not content to simply ask citizens to carry, some areas are working to alleviate the cost of concealed carry permit applications to entice more people to legally carry for protection. Laclede County Sheriff Wayne Merritt, who lowered costs from $100 to $65, said “The government has already said they can’t keep track of all these home-grown terrorists, so we can’t be everywhere at the same time, so people have to be able to defend themselves. Paris, as you know, has one of the strictest gun laws in the world—people can’t just go out and buy a gun like they can in the United States.”
As cities around the world continue to heighten security, in some cases canceling festivities altogether, amid fear of attacks this New Year’s Eve, let’s take the opportunity to exercise our Second Amendment rights and heed American Law Enforcement’s call to remain vigilant. We’re not all heading to Times Square or the Rose Bowl: let’s make sure the communities in between are well protected. Wherever you find yourself when midnight strikes, step up and be the security for those around you.
Carry ’em if you’ve got ’em and Happy New Year, everyone.