Florida sheriff clarifies remarks after warning protesters he could deputize ‘every lawful gun owner'

A Florida sheriff is speaking out further after warning potential violent protesters that he could deputize “every lawful gun owner” in his county “to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility.”

Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels made the initial remark Tuesday in a video posted to his department’s Facebook page. In the clip, Daniels said his rank and file would “protect your constitutional rights as long as you remain under the umbrella of peaceful protest or peaceful march.”

“But the second you step out from up under protection of the Constitution, we’ll be waiting on you and we’ll give you everything you want,” he continued. 

“And if we can’t handle you, I’ll exercise the power and authority as the sheriff, and I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county and I’ll deputize them for this one purpose to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility,” Daniels added.

RELATED: Florida sheriff says he will deputize gun owners if county gets overwhelmed by protesters

However, during a follow-up video posted the next day, in which Daniels was having a conversation with a local peaceful protest organizer, the sheriff said: “We have not given – and will never give – anybody the autonomy or approval under the name of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.”

“That is our responsibility,” Daniels said. “But when it comes to protecting this county, that is more than the sheriff’s office responsibility. It’s us collectively, it’s our county, it’s our community and our responsibility to police ourselves together, but when it comes to authority, the authority is the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and every sworn law enforcement officer in this jurisdiction.”

Daniels said the caller had “some concerns about people who are essentially up in arms or the only thing that they heard was that ‘hey the sheriff says that he will make special deputies and those deputies will be comprised of lawful, gun owners in Clay County and he will make them special deputies’, which... to some people it sounds like ‘wait a minute, you are going to give people a green light or authorize them to use deadly force on peaceful protesters’.”

“That would be a violation or dereliction of my duties as the sheriff,” he added. “That would also be a violation of state statute.”

Clay County's Board of Commissioners, when contacted by Fox News, said it had no comment on the matter.

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