With the San Bernardino massacre triggering new calls for more-restrictive gun laws, local law enforcement officials questioned Monday whether such measures would deter terrorists and suggested they would pose new burdens for law-abiding people.
"We support people's Second Amendment rights 100 percent," said Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond. He claimed that studies have found crime is more prevalent in areas that have the most-stringent gun control laws, while criminals avoid targeting places where there is greater likelihoood they will encounter an armed response.
"Your typical terrorist isn't going to walk into a convention of NRA (National Rifle Association) members," the undersheriff said.
Over the weekend, in the wake of the worst domestic terror attack since the Sept. 11, 2001, airline hijackings, President Barack Obama mixed his vow to hunt down terror plotters with a call for greater restrictions on semi-automatic weapons such as the ones used in the killings of 14 people in San Bernardino.
The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also urged new restrictions on such firearms and contended the "loophole" for gun shows should be closed. She also argued that gun sellers be held liable for criminal attacks carried out with the weapons they sold.
But the push for more gun control appears to be motivating some people to apply for gun permits, said Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond. He noted at least two people went to the sheriff's office Monday to fill out pistol permit applications.
A gun-rights advocate, Desmond, a former state trooper, said his advice to people now is: "Buy a gun while you still can."
The San Bernardino massacre of county employees, he said, is apt to stir up more opposition to national gun-control measures, much as Second Amendment supporters continue to oppose the New York SAFE Act measures that tightened access to certain firearms.
"After these attacks by the ISIS supporters out in California, it's going to be a tough sell now more than ever to get people to give up their guns," Desmond told The Daily Star.
In Cooperstown, Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. noted the couple linked to the San Bernardino killings, now deceased after a gun battle with police, were able to acquire semi-automatic rifles despite the fact that California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
Devlin, also a proponent of gun rights, said he believes a population with widespread gun ownership is less vulnerable to such shocking crimes.
"It's not the law-abiding people we have to worry about," he said.
Schoharie County District Attorney James Sacket said local residents who have obtained gun permits "are some of the most responsible people I know."
However, he noted he was reluctant to discuss his views on gun control proposals, observing that it his job to enforce the laws "whether I agree with them or not."
"There are three branches of government, and it works best when everyone stays within their defined roles," he said.
In Delhi, DuMond said that while he and Delaware County Sheriff Thomas Mills support gun rights, they do not encourage vigilantism.
"We want people to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment," he said. "But it has to be balanced with common sense and training."
• FBI says couple were radicalized, trained with guns. Page 9.