Maybe It’s The Water

You’ve Gotta Love Sheriffs Who Tell It Like It Is

See this handgun? Florida Sheriff T.K. Waters told reporters during
a press conference he could put a handgun on a counter, and it
wouldn’t hurt anyone. Did the media listen?

Reporting on high-profile — or maybe just highly publicized — shooting tragedies often has a side benefit: Occasionally one gets to hear a local lawman, unafraid of irking some political boss, make observations which are the definition of common sense.

It happened last month following a racially-charged triple homicide in Jacksonville, Florida when Sheriff T.K. Waters told a room full of reporters, probably with a tiny bit of sarcasm, “The story is always about guns. It’s the people that (are) bad.”

He quickly added this about the killer who had murdered three people before taking his own life, “This guy’s a bad guy. If I could take my gun off right now and lay it on this counter, nothing will happen. It’ll sit there. But as soon as a wicked person grabs ahold of that handgun and starts shooting people with it, there’s the problem. The problem is the individual.

“Now guns are a tool that people use to do horrible things,” the sheriff added. “But it’s the individuals that wield these things. So, we are working hard to try to stop that.”

I’ll bet those newsies didn’t see that coming. Indeed, most news agencies didn’t bother to report the sheriff’s comments but Fox News did. It made Sheriff Waters a standout in a field of hand-wringers; a fellow who knows the good guys from the bad guys.

By no small surprise, this seems to be a trait shared by several Sunshine State sheriffs.

Back in April, NBC News reported on Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods’ observations about a trio of teens involved in a deadly shooting spree. The crime predictably took on a gun control angle, with the press seemingly ignoring the fact that none of the suspects, ages 17, 16 and 12, were old enough to legally purchase, much less possess a handgun.

Too many people, including the media, want to blame guns such
as this Kahr pistol for violent crime, rather than hold criminals
responsible, suggested Florida Sheriff Billy Woods back in April.

During a presser about the crime, Sheriff Woods observed, “There are individuals out there viewing, and includes some of you media, that want to blame the one thing that has no ability or the capacity to commit the crime itself, and that’s the gun. These individuals committed the crime.”

Whoa! To a crowd of reporters — and keep in mind I’m still a working member of the press — that probably sounded close to blasphemy. And Sheriff Woods wasn’t finished. He tossed this in for good measure: “All the gun laws we got in place didn’t prevent it, did it? Neither will any new ones. Because here’s the fact: The bad guy is going to get a gun no matter what law you put in place. These juveniles shouldn’t even possess a handgun but they did.”

Of course, NBC added some spin with this headline: “Florida sheriff goes on a wild rant against gun laws while announcing arrests in shootings that killed 3 teenagers.”

Right, There’s More!

Writing at, that often bombastic Brit Piers Morgan had a few words for Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, who started his career in New York state but went south to pursue southern law enforcement. This time, Morgan was thoughtful and seemed to put considerable thought into his remarks.

On the heels of an arrest involving a 10-year-old for “making a written threat about a mass shooting (How does a kid that age even get such a notion?), Morgan quoted Sheriff Marceno, who observed, “Bad people will always have guns so the more good people you arm … the only thing you can do with lethal force and stopping it is creating lethal force or deadly force against it.”

Bet that went over well with Morgan’s Australian listening audience back in June 2022. During Marceno’s on-air interview with Morgan, the sheriff stated, “Guns are not the issue. The issue is, people ignore ‘red flags.’”

Looking back to November 2017, the Washington Post made a to-do about Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a fellow not unfamiliar with media reaction to his remarks. In this case, the WaPo was discussing a Facebook video in which Judd was talking about mass shooter in Texas.

“Someone’s got to be there with a gun to stop them,” the sheriff said of mass killers.

In the video, Sheriff Judd noted how the Texas gunman stopped when a man identified as Stephen Willeford grabbed his own semi-auto rifle and fired at Devin P. Kelley outside of a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Kelley fled the scene, having been hit twice, with Willeford and another man, Johnnie Langendorff, in hot pursuit.

Kelley ultimately took his own life.

Judd also commented about how easy it is for a murderer to commit mayhem “when there’s no one there shooting back.” The scenario changes rapidly when somebody starts shooting back.

There are lots of county sheriffs who know the good guys from
the bad guys. Cascade County, Montana Sheriff Jesse Waters
is a good example.

Or try Cascade County, Montana Sheriff Jesse Slaughter, who told a gathering of gun owners in Missoula last year, “The Second Amendment is not about sport and hunting, it’s about protecting our rights.”

Maybe it’s something in the water they drink. Perhaps it’s the coffee. Most likely, though, it’s some years of experience dealing with bad people who have victimized good people. After a while, you can tell the difference.

Social Media

I’ve discovered Insider readers are sometimes keen followers on social media, where one gets some interesting reactions.

Insider’s recent discussion of single-action holster hammer thongs brought some nice remarks. David Benjamin West wrote, “That is really slick how you run that thong. I like that a lot. Thank you for posting this.”

But pal Rob Leahy, proprietor at Simply Rugged Holsters, brought laughs when he observed, “Dave Workman, first time ever I was disappointed in one of your articles… ‘The Thong Thing’ had absolutely NOTHING to do with ladies skimpy bathing suits…”

Reacting to the more recent column headlined “Lion Tamers,” reader Ron Fouty commented, “Great article, as usual Dave. I’ve seen and heard them big kitties whilst wandering the woods. They are usually (emphasis on the ‘usually’) wary and hightail it around people. There are folks who like to run trails. They ought to realize they are acting like prey, and they need to be prepared for an attack.”

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