Colorado Springs, CO – The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPCSO) sparked outrage on social media on Friday when it tweeted a picture of Santa Claus applying for a concealed-carry permit.
“Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today?” the sheriff’s department’s official Twitter account asked. “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?”
The post featured a picture of Santa Claus filling out an application for a concealed handgun permit.
The tweet continued with a link to the law enforcement agency’s website and was meant to serve as educational for those who viewed it.
But that’s not how the post was interpreted by many.
Critics on social media blasted the sheriff’s department for their timing and accused the sheriff of being tone-deaf in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Oxford, Michigan only three days earlier.
Four students were killed and six more were seriously wounded when a 15-year-old gunman came out of a bathroom and opened fire in the hallway of Oxford High School.
“Posting this tells me your professional judgment is impaired,” @LowFlexibility tweeted. “What is your message to children here? Santa has a legally concealed weapon? For protection against elves, reindeer, children who take a peek on Xmas eve?”
“There is enough anxiety among children already,” the poster added.
Some people made jokes about it in the context of a recent rash of package thefts in the area, but many felt the sheriff’s department’s post was a bad taste, The Washington Post reported.
“I don’t think the idea of Santa needing a handgun is as uplifting as you think it is,” Fritz Kroncke tweeted.
EPCSO posted an apology to those who were offended about three hours later, but it didn’t take the post down, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) faced similar criticism for posting a gun-themed family Christmas portrait on Saturday.
In the picture, each family member held a long gun, The Washington Post reported.
Merry Christmas! 🎄
ps. Santa, please bring ammo. 🎁 pic.twitter.com/NVawULhCNr
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 4, 2021
“Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo,” the caption under the post read.