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December 9, 2015 -- A New York sheriff has a strategy for fighting terrorism on American soil: if you have permit to carry, do so.

Steuben County Sheriff David Cole is one of a growing number of sheriffs around the country advising citizens to protect themselves.

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Steuben County Sheriff David Cole has joined some other upstate New York sheriffs urging licensed concealed-carry handgun owners to have their weapons on them at all times in light of recent terror attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Cole also  is encouraging residents to take advantage of firearms and self-defense classes the sheriff's office offers to better prepare for potential life-or-death situations.

Following the attack that killed 14 people last week in San Bernardino, California — an attack the FBI is investigating as an act of terror — Ulster County Sheriff Paul van Blarcom asked all licensed handgun owners in the county to take advantage of their legal right to carry a firearm, and to make sure they are proficient with their weapons and understand state laws regarding self-defense.

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts later posted a similar recommendation, as long as residents know their options and limitations.

Cole said the Steuben County Sheriff's Citizens Police Academy, a 10-week class, is the perfect venue for people to learn their rights and responsibilities and to learn the skills needed to survive a life-threatening situation. Information about the program is on the sheriff's office website.

"The Sheriff’s Citizen Police Academy will provide you with the knowledge needed to take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm," Cole said in a news release. "To ensure the safety of yourself and others, make sure you are comfortable and proficient with your weapon and knowledgeable of the laws in New York state with regards to carrying a weapon and when it is legal to use it.

"In addition, in these violent times with terrorism in this country, the sheriff’s office provides free weekly self-defense classes at the Public Safety Building, providing invaluable training on how to defend oneself in various violent confrontations, developing a proficiency in self-defense and a proper mental state in a crisis," he said. "The course teaches defenses against armed and unarmed attackers."

Cole also urges all active and retired law enforcement officers to carry a weapon when they leave the house.

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