Responding to recent shootings of law enforcement and military personnel, an Alabama sheriff has made good on a pledge he announced last month to provide his deputies with firearms to carry for protection while off duty.
DeKalb County, AL, Sheriff Jimmy Harris received regional and national attention in July when he announced a change of policy that would require all certified deputies to carry a concealed handgun while off duty in the aftermath of the Chattanooga, Tenn. shootings. During that rampage, a lone gunman shot and killed four unarmed U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor during attacks on a recruiting office and a Naval Operations Support Center.
According to a press release issued by Harris’s office this this week, his agency has received 44 Glock 43 single-stack 9mm pistols to distribute among the certified deputies.
“The reason for purchase of these handguns is because the deputies (were previously) required to purchase their own on-duty weapons,” Harris said. “These guns will remain the property of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and all deputies receiving a gun will have to go through an APOST certification designed for backup weapons.”
The sheriff said his decision to change the department policy was based on events occurring the past several years.
“This country is based on God, guns, and the right to protect ourselves. I think as sheriff, it is my place to protect the safety and security of our citizens,” Harris said when he announced the program last month. “And help citizens in ways to protect their selves and their families.”
Harris, who said he believes the military should also change its policy and permit its recruiters to carry firearms for protection, suggested all law-abiding Americans should learn to use forearms firearms for personal and family protection.
“If you are not prepared, it is time that you get self-defense training or firearms training,” he said. “As a Christian, I ask you to put your faith in God, and as a life time NRA member, it is time you learn to protect yourself by learning the proper and safe ways to handle a weapon.”
Sheriff Harris said his office is accepting donations to help offset the cost of the handguns.