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Mid-Missouri sheriffs encourage citizens to protect themselves

With two mass shootings fresh in the minds of many around the country, sheriffs from Florida to Ohio have called on people to buy guns for protection. Two mid-Missouri departments are also encouraging people to arm themselves.

They said it goes to show everyone, everywhere needs to be ready for any situation.

Those phone sales from Macon to Columbia to Lebanon triggered a statewide investigation, and the FBI is now involved.

ABC 17 News talked to departments in both Osage and Cole counties, and they agree that a legally-armed citizen could save lives.

Osage County Sheriff Michael Dixon said active shooter situations are generally over by the time police arrive, and arming yourself could be the key to saving lives.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

He said incidents like the recent attack in California always generate a spike in conceal carry permit applications. He said Osage County is a prime example.

“In the sheriff’s office alone, we’ve seen a massive increase in the amount of people who have come in our office to apply for conceal carry permits. I find that very reassuring that people are taking their own safety seriously,” said Dixon.

Dixon said he takes security of his family seriously, and even when he isn’t on the job he carries.

“Citizens should do the same thing, their safety is incumbent on them first,” said Dixon.

Cole County Sheriff’s Department Captain John Wheeler agrees. He said everyone has the right to protect themselves, but he has a slightly different view for owners.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I would encourage everyone to go out and get a conceal carry permit, I would recommend it, but the reason I say I don’t encourage it is because if you’re afraid of weapons and you don’t want anything to do with the weapons, then there is no reason to get a conceal carry,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler said most of the calls they respond to are weapons-related in some way, but he said that doesn’t make him anti-gun ownership.

Wheeler said unfortunately guns do fall into the hands of bad guys, but he said that is all the more reason for the good people to also be armed.

“We have to get out of the mentality that all law enforcement are against conceal carry, and against carrying weapons, because we’re not. I know I’m not; I’m an avid believer in them and I think people should go out and do it,” said Wheeler.

Both Wheeler and Dixon said the most important part of owning a gun is taking a safety class so you know how to use it.

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