SMYTH COUNTY, VA. - A funeral date is now set for the woman who was killed in a shooting at a Tennessee church on Sunday. The violence has caused Smyth County, Virginia Sheriff Chip Shuler to encourage residents in his county to get legally equipped to carry handguns. He's also willing to waive the $35 sheriff's fee on each concealed carry permit application.
"I'm a strong second amendment supporter," Sheriff Shuler says."I don't feel like I should try to make it difficult for anyone to get their concealed handgun permit."
Sheriff Shuler points out it can take at least several minutes for police to respond to an active shooter so he says gun carrying citizens like the church usher who stopped the gunman in Antioch can be the difference between life and death.
"The situation in Antioch is a prime example of how a reaction can save lives," Sheriff Shuler says.
Several people have already voiced their support of the sheriff's move.
"Police can't be everywhere at all times," Ryan Knapp, a Marion resident, says. "If there's an act of terror and we need to split second decision made and some has a concealed weapons carry, there we go, we got it."
"The criminals will always have guns I think the honest guys need to have people to protect themselves," Avery Cornett, a Marion business owner, says.
But Nytia Wilson disagrees.
"We don't need more guns," Wilson says. "We need more peace we need to figure out a better way to deal with difficult situations without using guns."
Smyth County isn't the first in southwest Virginia to take this step. Sheriff Shuler says he modeled his plan after seeing what sheriff's in Washington County and Tazewell County have done in the past.
Starting in November, Sheriff Shuler will also offer free concealed carry permit classes.
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