A South Carolina sheriff is making the extraordinary suggestion that local women arm themselves following the attempted rape of a woman at a local park, saying, "you need to protect yourself."
Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, the county's top law enforcement officer since 2005, suggested local women apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon during a news conference Monday about the attack on Sunday at Milliken Park in Spartanburg.
"It just struck me wrong that we keep telling everyone 'trust us, trust us, trust us,' but in reality, you need to protect yourself," Wright told FoxNews.com. "If you are not a convicted felon or someone who causes trouble or don't have any mental issues, buy a weapon to protect yourself and get some good training."
Walter Monroe Lance, 46, of Spartanburg, was charged Monday with kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and grand larceny in connection with the attack. Lance was ordered held without bond, Wright said.
Wright suggested that had the unidentified victim been armed, perhaps with a .45-caliber handgun concealed in a fanny pack, she would have stood a better chance fighting off her attacker.
"If she didn't shoot the guy, she could have at least stopped him and made him leave her alone," Wright said. "You can defend yourself."
Wright said he was "tired of looking at victims" of crimes whose perpetrators are arrested multiple times and are later released without significant jail time. Lance, for example, had been arrested more than 20 times, he said, including for offenses like rape, battery and resisting arrest. Wright characterized him as an "animal" during Monday's news conference.
Since making the suggestion that women lawfully arm themselves, Wright said his office has received more than 200 phone calls supporting his stance. Only one didn't "praise" the call to action, he said.
"We're not trying to raise up a militia here, we're sending a message to the bad guys that we're tired of it," he said. "I'm through getting bit."
"There are tons of guns on the street now, I would just prefer to train the good people who have them so there'd be less accidents," Wright said. "I am plainspoken in a lot of aspects and we cannot be everywhere. I think the people in this county understand how I go after these drug dealers and people who break into our homes … We're just very relentless in our pursuit of justice."
Asked if he believes his message resonated with Spartanburg County residents, Wright replied: "I would say that if you're a concealed weapons permit instructor, you're about to make a lot of Christmas money."