U.S. sheriffs call on gun owners to take matters into their own hands, take down shooters when they see them

A customer looks over weapons for sale at the Pony Express Firearms shop in Parker, Colorado, on Dec. 7, 2015.Reuters

At least two sheriffs in America have come out to urge licensed gun owners to take matters into their own hands in fighting terrorism and mass shooters amid growing fears of more terrorist acts ahead involving Islamic radicals.

A CBS poll showed that 69 percent of Americans think a terrorist attack can happen in the U.S. in the next few months.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is called the "Toughest Sheriff in America," told KPHO that he alone cannot guarantee the public's safety anymore. He urged the 250,000 gun owners in his state who carry concealed weapons permits to get ready to take on terrorists and other trouble-makers.

"I'm just talking about the areas where you have large crowds and someone pulls out the gun and starts shooting. Maybe somebody with a concealed weapon takes the guy down," he said.

The Islamic State (ISIS) is the reason why gun owners should be wary, Arpaio said. He talked about the killings in Paris last Nov. 13 and at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last week.

He said if someone had been harmed, the killer could have been stopped.

"I'm concerned about what's going on. Just think about Colorado. If there was someone in there with a concealed weapon, that guy would have been shot down," Arpaio said.

Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum in New York also encouraged gun owners to be armed.

"In light of recent events that have occurred in the United States and around the world I want to encourage citizens of Ulster County who are licensed to carry a firearm to please do so," he wrote on Facebook on Dec. 3.

Van Blarcum urged gun owners "to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm."

He said to ensure safety, gun owners should be "comfortable and proficient with your weapon, and knowledgeable of the laws in New York State with regards to carrying a weapon and when it is legal to use it."

The sheriff also reminded active and retired police and peace officers "to please carry a weapon whenever you leave your house."

"We are the thin blue line that is entrusted in keeping this country safe, and we must be prepared to act at any given moment," he said.

However, other law enforcers oppose the idea of private citizens becoming armed vigilantes.

Steve Henry, chief deputy of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, explained that untrained gun owners who use their weapons during a live shooting incident could endanger innocent bystanders.

"Sometimes it's not proper to pull the trigger because the collateral damage is not worth it. We don't want to walk into a gun fight between anybody, much less a gun fight where people are untrained," he said.