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

A sheriff in north Florida says he will deputize "every lawful gun owner" in his county if protests turn violent.

Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels released a video Tuesday to issue the warning in what he called a fight against "lawlessness."

"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 said in the video, flanked by deputies on either side.

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The Florida Times-Union reports that Daniels is the first black sheriff of Clay County, which is just south of the Jacksonville area. He is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for the false arrest of a corrections officer with whom he was reportedly having an affair during his time at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Daniels, who is up for re-election against six opponents, made the video in response to nationwide protests, although it is unclear if there have been reports of violence at any protests in Daniels' jurisdiction.

"We'll protect your constitutional rights as long as you remain under the umbrellas 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," Daniels said. "If you come to Clay County and you think for one second, we’ll bend our backs for you, you’re sadly mistaken."