A Colorado Sheriff's Office left people outraged after posting a photo depicting Santa Claus obtaining a concealed carry handgun permit.
The El Paso County Sheriff shared the photo, in which a portly Santa Claus was registering for a concealed carry authorization, along with statistics about gun ownership in the county that struck many gun control advocates as excessive.
Given the post's timing, just days after a deadly school shooting left four teenagers dead in Oxford, Michigan, it inspired a tidal wave of angry reactions.
See the post below.
The El Paso County Sheriff's tweet read:
"Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today? 🎅"
"Did you know the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has issued 49,750 Concealed Handgun Permits with another 2,560 awaiting to be issued?"
Nothing says Christmas cheer like Santa Claus joining the ranks of the nearly 50,000 people in El Paso County Colorado walking around with a loaded gun on their hips!
Many felt the post was bizarre and inappropriate, while others found it downright dystopian. And several questioned why Santa Claus would even need a gun in the first place.
Are excited children holding him at gunpoint as he comes out of the fireplace or something?
Perhaps most heavily on the minds of people angered by the tweet was the school shooting just last week in Oxford, Michigan. Given the timing, the post struck many as tone-deaf and ill-timed.
A fiery backlash to the tweet immediately ensued, which the El Paso Country Sheriff's Department responded to with a follow-up tweet.
EPSO intended to highlight our staff in the Concealed Handgun Permit Office, not to be insensitive. Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard working staff.
— EPCSheriff (@EPCSheriff) December 3, 2021
The Department clarified it did not intend to be "insensitive," explaining:
"Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard working staff."
But it's hard to deny using a beloved children's figure like Santa Claus as a concealed handgun permit mascot is a macabre choice, particularly given recent events.
The Department's follow-up did little to assuage people's anger.
I’m sitting here in downtown Oxford, MI, waiting for the candlelight vigil to start to pay tribute to 4 students who were murdered by a handgun smuggled into the school. But by all means, tell kids Santa carries a concealed weapon.
— Joseph Johnson (@jage750) December 3, 2021
People knew this was in poor taste back in 1976. pic.twitter.com/2KVjPqOetg
— Charles Louis Richter (@richterscale) December 3, 2021
Respectfully, as an Australian, this sort of thing very neatly illustrates the US’s completely insane & deeply unhealthy relationship with firearms
— a rotten recipe stealing bitch (@1c3B3rgMama) December 3, 2021
Disgusting. Those interact w kids have no place carrying concealed handguns. Do those you issue these permits to know how to lock & secure their firearms? Do they have any firearm safety training? You’re actively making society less safe, rather than “protecting and serving.“
— Your Mom 🇺🇸💫🌧☔️🌲🏔 (@sto_k) December 3, 2021
Way to market guns to children the week of a school mass shooting. 🙄 https://t.co/UOMT4rdtZd
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 4, 2021
Wasn't there a horrible mass shooting event in el paso not that long ago? Wasn't there ANOTHER school shooting resulting in the deaths of 4 children this week? Now isnt the time to be pushing this product. Delete your tweet immediately.
— Bad Hombre Resistor 🥁🥁 (@BetaRayBob1) December 4, 2021
In Texas, kids sometimes scare Santa with milk and cookies, so he needs to be prepared to murder them 'in self defense'. Also, one kid asked for a skateboard, which can be used as a weapon, so Santa needs a gun to defend himself after entering their home unannounced.
— Cowboy Guru (@GuruCowboy) December 4, 2021
Others pointed out how indicative the tweet was of America's obsession with guns.
This doesn’t make the American relationship with guns look completely unhinged at all no siree https://t.co/HN0y8cr6zy
— Claire Z🎄gorski, MSc, LP 🎅🏻 (@clairezagorski) December 4, 2021
Damn. this just got more dystopian… and I didn’t think that was possible https://t.co/YVo2yQNXLG
— josh grubbs (@JoshuaGrubbsPhD) December 4, 2021
Gotta protect himself from these school kids https://t.co/5hacgpgZQq
— gianmarco (@GianmarcoSoresi) December 4, 2021
The El Paso County Sheriff's Department has since responded to the backlash by closing the tweet to further responses.