COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Whether or not Santa Claus needs a handgun in 2021 is a much larger issue, but a social media post by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office featuring a Santa lookalike obtaining a concealed handgun permit received hundreds of comments questioning the timing and sensitivity of the post.
The photo was posted to the sheriff's office's Facebook and Twitter pages around noon Friday, but it received near-immediate backlash on Twitter.
Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today? 🎅— EPCSheriff (@EPCSheriff) December 3, 2021
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?
For more info please visit our website: https://t.co/AbGrPigOUZ pic.twitter.com/ELmffXcfjA
The man seen in the above photo wasn't identified by the sheriff's office, but the sheriff's office didn't hesitate to point out his resemblance to the fictional Western Christian character.
Many of the comments questioned the sheriff's office's use of a children's figure to appear to support handguns.
This really is in poor taste, EPSO. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be anything other than fun, but with yet another school shooting this week, and loads of children worried about that, posting this furthers their fears. And turns parents off. Please reconsider and apologize.— D F 🏔 (@Hunterrider) December 3, 2021
Santa has a fvcking gun is what you’re going with? Should I show my child this pic? Will it comfort them? Will they love Santa more? Who is this tweet for?— Jane Austen (@JaneAusten1813) December 3, 2021
After several hundred people criticized the post, the sheriff's office issued a response saying, "EPSO intended to highlight our staff in the Concealed Handgun Permit Office, not to be insensitive."
The sheriff's office also said in a response that, "Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard-working staff."
We reached out to a spokesperson with the sheriff's office Friday afternoon. The sheriff's office responded with the following statement:
The EPSO intended to highlight our staff (sharing stats) in the Concealed Handgun Permit Office, we certainly did not intend this to be insensitive in any way. Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard working staff.The El Paso County Sheriff's Office
We have received a number of requests on how to obtain a concealed handgun permit; This was a way to not only share stats but to share information (a link to our website) on how to do so.