In this 2010 file photo, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway addresses the media during a press conference.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway has released a statement in support of gun owners.
Conway posted the statement prominently on his department's website on Tuesday, a spokesman confirmed, calling it in response to "the many emails received."
It was featured under a tab marked "The 2nd Amendment," displayed at the top of the page.
"I encourage all law abiding citizens to acquire and maintain the skills to safely carry a firearm in order to protect themselves and others," Conway said.
"Sadly, our society contains those that will harm others when given the opportunity," the statement continued. "An armed citizen certainly presents much less opportunity to those that would do them harm."
The sheriff's statement was posted amid a roaring firearms debate and less than week after President Barack Obama released his administration's aggressive proposal for stronger gun control, which included 23 executive actions and about a dozen proposed Congressional actions.
Shortly after mentioning the children of Newtown, Conn., in his second inauguration speech Monday, Obama hinted at debate over the Second Amendment.
"Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life," he said. "It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle century's long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time."
Gwinnett County's probate court received a total of 8,610 applications for firearms permits in 2012, nearly doubling the 2011 total of 4,700. The office saw more than 900 applicants in December alone.