Sheriff's Office Addresses Backlash Over 'Santa' Handgun Permit Photo

A Colorado sheriff's office has apologized after it was slammed online for sharing a photo of "Santa" getting a concealed handgun permit.

El Paso County Sheriff's Office (EPSO) shared a December 3 Twitter photo that included a photo of a man dressed similarly to Santa at the station.

The original post read: "Guess who came in to receive his concealed handgun permit today? 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?"

But, the post was mocked and condemned online, including by those who believed it was inappropriate to share days after the deadly Oxford High School shooting in Michigan last month.

New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D) said in a December 4 quote tweet: "That the El Paso County Sheriff's Office finds it okay to promote Santa getting a gun after a child shot & killed his classmates this week, is deeply misguided and deranged."

The Daily Show's Twitter account said on Monday: "'You better not shout, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why' hits different."

Shannon Watts, founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action, said: "Guns will be given as gifts this year. Instead of implying Santa is armed, perhaps El Paso police could use its platform to educate gun owners about secure gun storage."

While the majority of comments and quote tweets seen by Newsweek were critical of the tweet, there were those who supported the sheriff's office.

The Libertarian Party of Colorado said in response: "Authoritarians that don't believe in the #2ndAmendment got reeeeeally triggered on this one. #ShallNotBeInfringed #MerryChristmas."

In response to the backlash, the EPSO said in a follow-up tweet that it did not intend to offend anyone with the post.

The follow-up tweet read: "EPSO intended to highlight our staff in the concealed handgun permit office, not to be insensitive.

"Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard-working staff."

As of Tuesday morning, replies were disabled on both comments and only accounts mentioned by the EPSO could respond.

Newsweek has contacted the EPSO for comment.

Last week, Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) was slammed online after he shared a photo of himself and his family members holding guns in front of a Christmas tree on Twitter in the days following the Oxford High School shooting.

Santa getting concealed handgun permit
A El Paso County Sheriff's Office photo of "Santa" getting his concealed handgun permit. Many people critisized the photo on social media. Twitter/ El Paso County Sheriff's Office