BELLEVUE, WA – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri should apologize and walk back his unconscionable remarks about how legally-armed citizens would be “thrown down on the ground with a gun pointed at them” at a crime scene, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

“We are simply astonished at the abrasive attitude reflected by Sheriff Gualtieri’s comments,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “The sheriff has opposed open carry legislation, which the Florida Police Chiefs Association supports, but threatening lawfully-armed private citizens with physical abuse because they might have the misfortune to end up in the middle of an armed robbery or some other felony crime is unconscionable.

“If this guy can’t tell the difference between an armed law-abiding citizen and some criminal,” he added, “maybe he ought to pursue a different career. We know of hundreds of lawmen and women who have encountered armed citizens at crime scenes, and this is the first time we’ve ever heard of a sheriff whose first thought is to throw someone to the ground at gunpoint.”

Sheriff Gualtieri was quoted by the News Service of Florida yesterday, asserting that if an officer arrives at a crime scene and encounters an armed citizen, “At a minimum, they’re going to be thrown down on the ground with a gun pointed at them – or worse.”

“What does he mean by ‘or worse’,” Gottlieb wondered. “That seems to imply that a deputy will shoot first and maybe ask questions later. If that’s his strategy, Pinellas County better have a platoon of lawyers to defend against wrongful death and excessive use of force lawsuits.”

Gottlieb said there is no justification for this kind of chest-thumping rhetoric. It amounts to a threat to shoot armed citizens who may have just had to defend themselves and their families, only to be gunned down by the very people who are supposed to help them, he observed.

“If I were a legally-armed resident of Pinellas County,” Gottlieb said, “this sheriff is the last guy I’d want showing up at a crime scene. His investigative approach sounds like a fatal error waiting to happen.