After receiving a flurry of complaints from concerned gun owners, a tip from a Georgia police department advocating that holiday shoppers leave their firearms at home has been amended, an email sent this morning to Armed American Radio host Mark Walters and others who registered their objections advises.
The original purported “safety tip” from the Woodstock Police Department advised shoppers to “Leave you [sic] firearms at home. Thieves will take them turning the situation dangerous.”
Knowing this advice to be something that would actually endanger, rather than enhance individual and public safety, Walters, a nationally syndicated radio host, author, columnist and trained shooter, contacted a neighborhood group promoting the holiday tips, only to be rebuffed and referred to the police.
Following a story filed yesterday by Gun Rights Examiner relating the tip, gun owners quickly began contacting the department by email, and on social networks, posting their concerns to its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The department responded swiftly, amending their holiday shopping tip to now read:
9) Do not leave your firearms unattended within your vehicle.
“Each year we, here in Woodstock, unfortunately see a rise in entering autos in our jurisdiction’s numerous shopping centers and retail store parking lots during the holiday season,” Corporal R. Milligan, the department’s Public Information Officer explained. “In taking a proactive approach to help our citizens during this bustling season, we annually offer tips to remind our citizens and visitors on how they can safeguard their valuables and vehicles. With our increase in entering auto cases, we unfortunately also see cases where the perpetrators see a firearm and enter the vehicle to take it or happen upon a firearm during the commission of the theft of other valuables resulting in a theft of a firearm. With this in mind, tip nine was included in this year’s advice.
“I believe though the generic nature of the tip unfortunately did not convey the message intended,” he continued. “The tip was included to bring awareness to and warn our citizen base about leaving their firearms within their vehicles, unattended, while they shop this holiday season. Our intention was not to sway our public’s opinion about self protection. In taking this into consideration, I have amended our tips to include to the following: “9) Do not leave your firearms unattended within your vehicle.” I believe this will help to provide a more clearly stated tip to our citizens.
“I appreciate the time you took to bring this need for clarification to our attention so that we, here at the Woodstock Police Department, can continually offer better services to our citizens and visitors alike,” Milligan concluded.
“As a result of the efforts of many of your neighbors and others around the country notifying the Chief of Police, mayor and council members of their terrible advice regarding firearms in one of their holiday safety tips (#9), the Woodstock PD has amended their holiday tips page to better reflect their intention not to dissuade the community from their lawful right to self-defense but rather keeping firearms from the bad guys in the community,” Walters advised the neighborhood group that had forwarded the email that induced him to get involved to see that correct information was provided.
“As a result of their changes, and as you passed the advice on to your community, I am hopeful that you will resend the changed Woodstock PD’s holiday tips page along with this response from the Woodstock Police Department clarifying their true intent,” he requested. “Not doing so leaves neighbors unaware of the changes made by the Woodstock PD.”
That’s why calling attention to this, and loudly, was needed. The information had already been disseminated into the community, so addressing things quietly would not have countered that.
The swift reaction and change shows how a bit of light followed by a flurry of communications can, at times, produce positive results, with very little effort required on individuals engaging in such activism. It also serves as a reminder that the “pro-gun” side is the one that can mobilize the grassroots – if anti-gunners decide to involve themselves in this, count on it to be an “Astroturf” response from foundation recipients.
To those who have helped in this effort and sent messages to the Woodstock Police Department, contacting them again and thanking them for their immediate response and clarification would seem appropriate, as would passing news of that correction on to those who were forwarded the link to yesterday’s Gun Rights Examiner column.
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