Georgia sheriff warns visitors: If you kill our citizens, they might kill you back

Sheriff Jolley's sign outside the Harris County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Jolley's sign outside the Harris County Sheriff's Department

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley has a message for visitors: the citizens are armed, and if you commit murder in his county, well, the citizens might just kill you back themselves.

Jolley posted a sign outside his department warning visitors that Harris County residents have concealed weapons - and would use them. "If you kill someone, we might kill you back," the sign reads. "We have ONE jail and 356 cemeteries. Enjoy your stay!"

Welcome to Harris County, Georgia. Sheriff Mike Jolley invites you to visit, as long as you follow the law❤️

Posted by Sandi Meeks Bennett on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jolley said he changes the signs outside his office every seven or eight months, and pays for them himself.

"The verbiage of this is just tongue-in-cheek to the fact that we have a lot of concealed weapon cards going out right now, and I truly believe in my citizens in the county protecting themselves, that if someone comes up here and tries to harm them, they will use [their weapon] in a lawful manner," he said.

A photo of the new sign first appeared on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, and has since been shared more than 800 times. Most of the commenters said they loved it, though others weren't as enthusiastic. Jolley said the response was "98 or 99 percent supportive."

Jolley's sign comes amid a fierce national conversation on the role of government in regulating firearms after a shooter stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentines Day, killing 17 people.

Outcry from the survivors and their families pressured lawmakers in Florida to enact restrictions on firearms purchases that would have been politically unthinkable only months ago. Students from across the country staged both a national school walkout to protest school violence on March 14 and marched through cities across the nation on March 24 in support of action on gun control.

It's not the first time Jolley has attracted controversy with his signs. In 2015, he posted a similar sign in the same place attacking what he said was a culture of political correctness.

At the time, it read: "WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you… LEAVE!"

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 3.08.12 PM.png
The Sheriff's old sign, first posted in 2015. D&S Sign Company's Facebook page Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

The sign went viral and briefly put the rural Georgia county in the national spotlight, landing the sheriff a prime slot on '"Fox and Friends." Jolley told the Ledger-Enquirer he purchased the sign with his own money as a show of support for the "silent majority."

"It's time for the silent majority to stand up for our beliefs and not be ashamed," he said at the time. Local response to that sign was overwhelming positive, and Jolley said he got several offers from people wanting to buy it.

"I'm humbled by all of the support," the sheriff told the Ledger-Enquirer. "Surprised and humbled by it. Maybe the silent majority isn't going to be silent anymore."

When asked by the paper how his non-Christian employees might feel about the sign, he said "they're more than welcome to worship whatever God they choose fit," but "For me and mine, we worship Jesus Christ."

For a time, the sheriff sold T-shirts of the sign, with proceeds going to charity. He eventually sold the sign itself for charity as well.

It did get a fair share of criticism, including a condemnation from the American Humanist Association, which claimed the sign was unconstitutional.