The sheriff said it’s his saucy way of welcoming people to his county while, at the same time, warning them that a number of the citizens exercise their right to bear arms.
“If you come and put someone’s life in danger in Harris County, you could stand the risk of being put in danger yourself,” he told The Washington Post.
The sign was put up Tuesday, amid a contentious national debate over Second Amendment rights in the wake of recent mass shootings, such as the one in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Jolley said he understands that some people support guns and others do not. But he claims that, in his county, a large part of the population approves of firearms.
“Georgia is very much a Second Amendment state, and Harris County is a strong Second Amendment county,” he said.
In 2012, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which investigates matters for Congress, studied state gun laws across the country. Florida was found to have the highest number of valid concealed weapons permits — 887,000 — followed by Pennsylvania and then Georgia, which had about 600,000, according to the report.
Jolley said over that the past several years, concealed weapon permits in Harris County have tripled.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year that data shows that people in Georgia are twice as likely to be shot and killed as those in New York.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1,571 firearm deaths in Georgia in 2016. Both firearm deaths and homicides in the state were above the national average.
Jolley said he is giving out-of-towners fair notice about what they can expect.
“We want people to come and enjoy Harris County,” he said, “but we want them to do it in a safe manner, and we want them to know that they’re safe when they get here.”
It’s not the first time Jolley had made national news with his welcomes signs.
In 2015, he posted an unusual declaration wishing people a Merry Christmas.
“WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect,” the sign said. “We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you … LEAVE!”
Jolley said he decided to speak up with his sign because, over the years, he had watched “the silent majority” grow even “more silent.”
“It’s time for the silent majority to stand up for our beliefs and not be ashamed,” he told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer at the time.
Jolley said he changes the signs about every eight months or so and pays for them out of his own pocket. Since he has put up the most recent one, he said, the response has been about “99.9 percent positive.”
But the sheriff doesn’t seem to mind a little controversy, either.
“I’ve been in office a long time,” he said, “so I like to stir the pot.”
This story has been updated.