“I believe in the 2nd Amendment and am an avid and lifelong gun owner and hunter (and recently revived bow hunter). That said, generally I think its unsafe to keep firearms in the home, unless they are unloaded AND locked preferably in a safe and I am not a fan of citizens carrying their weapons, even unloaded, out in public (where it is legal to do so), BUT I do believe that EVERY American should own a gun and know how to use it,…

…just like they should own a fire-extinguisher and know how to use it. I believe that anyone who does not is unrealistically placing too much reliance on our outstanding public safety folks, who can’t be everywhere all the time. And there are rare situations (see the prison break article below or violent rioting) where I do believe we need to have our personal weapons at the ready to protect ourselves, our families, friends or others. If I lived in Dannemora, New York right now (assuming it was all legal and I hope it is), even though I have never done so before, I would strap on my Glock-45 caliber handgun and carry it loaded around town as I drove my children to school or my wife on errands. At home, despite some temporary risk of an accident, I also would have my shotguns out of the safe and ammunition nearby and possibly a rifle or two handy (and I would make sure that everyone in my family of an appropriate age can handle any of these weapons). In Dannemora right now, I would never go around my home or town without being armed to be able to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s not safe to do so with convicted and desperate killers on the loose. I am all for tolerance of other people’s viewpoints, but on this issue, when people try to limit my ability to defend myself and my family and friends, they are just dead wrong and I will fight them politically with all my efforts.”, Mike Perry

N.Y. / Region

Guns at Hand, a Prison Town Tracks a Manhunt for Escaped Convicts

By SARAH MASLIN NIR

Clarke Currier in his home in Dannemora, N.Y. Residents have been taking extra precautions after two prisoners escaped. Credit Jacob Hannah for The New York Times

DANNEMORA, N.Y. — In a town where residents are either corrections officers or live next door to one, few admit to being fearful about the two convicted murderers who escaped the walls of the prison here last weekend. But their actions reveal a heightened watchfulness.

Abby Boire, 32, an assistant professor at a nearby college, said she checked on her 4-year-old daughter seven times as the child slept on Wednesday night.

Ms. Boire also had a gun ready.

In the six days since the two convicted murderers were discovered missing from the Clinton Correctional Facility here, after creeping up through a series of pipes and out a manhole on a residential side street, they have been the targets of a sprawling manhunt that continued to grind through the area’s forests, roads and even front lawns on Thursday.

Now, caution and self-protection have been on the minds even of residents accustomed to living near the prison.

Immediately after the prisoners, Richard W. Matt and David Sweat, were discovered to have escaped, the danger did not seem imminent, several townspeople said. A joint news conference on Wednesday between Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Peter Shumlin of Vermont appeared to indicate that the men had left the vicinity, maybe even the state.

But as the search redoubled on Wednesday night among the forests of sugar maple and American beech just a few miles from the prison, and investigators said that a possible accomplice who was to provide a getaway car, Joyce Mitchell, an employee in the prison’s tailoring shop, had had a change of heart, some local residents said it felt as though the danger had lingered.

Here where properties span several acres, a new morning ritual has emerged: checking sheds, barns and vehicles for the escapees, with gun drawn.

Devi Momot, 52, drove her daughter’s pet Staffordshire terrier, Ayla, to a newly widowed neighbor to stay with the woman for the night. Never mind that while the muscle-bound dog looks intimidating, it is in fact about half as ferocious as a large stuffed bear. “It made her feel safe,” Ms. Momot said.

Her brother Clark Currier was not leaving anything to chance.

“I’ve got a shotgun by the back door, two rifles in the living room and a shotgun upstairs in my bedroom,” said Mr. Currier, as he sat in the offices of Twinstate Technologies, a cybersecurity firm he owns with his family. (Ms. Momot is a co-owner.) He gestured toward the back of his jeans: “Plus my pistol.”

The low building abuts land near Route 374 where hundreds of law-enforcement officers were still combing the woods. They had been searching there since the night before, after a tracking dog had appeared to pick up a scent, a State Police official said.

Outside their home just a few thousand feet from a police cordon at Trudeau Road, Phyllis and Ken Phelps were planting tomatoes and playing catch with their two dogs as their grandson buzzed along with a weed trimmer. But their idyll was riddled with hints of anxiety, though they were loath to admit it.

“I’m in the kitchen and I keep looking back at the woods,” she said.

“Don’t make it sound like she’s scared,” Mr. Phelps, in his straw gardening hat, said to a reporter, adding that his wife could easily have been looking for something else.

“Yes, a fox might come in and try to eat the chickens,” she said.

Guns are a part of life in the North Country, the thickly wooded tracts at the uppermost edge of New York State. There are hunting rifles, but here in the shadow of the state’s largest maximum-security prison, they keep pistols and revolvers, too, most often unloaded — just in case.

At Vann’s Gun Shop & Reloads in nearby Plattsburgh, one of the owners, Mary Vann, said she had not seen a run on ammunitions, nor sold any more than usual of her top seller, a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, since the escape. There was no need.

“Everybody is pretty well armed up here to begin with,” she said. “We are prepared up here for almost anything.”

On Wednesday night, some residents received robocalls instructing them to stay indoors. Schools were closed on Thursday; some teenagers took advantage of the free day to go to the beach at a nearby riverfront.

Some had left for friends’ or relatives’ houses in neighboring towns outside the sweep of where the authorities were marching through the bushes, and halting cars at checkpoints, popping open trunks for inspection.

Theresa Driscoll’s sister Michelle Young, 48, drove in from Lisbon, N.Y., about two hours away, to stay at Ms. Driscoll’s house on Emmons Street, just a few blocks off from the prison’s immense walls. She sat in the sun on Thursday in a folding chair outside the red-shingled house to see any drama unfold live, rather than on her television set.

Ms. Driscoll, 56, however, did not share in her sister’s thrill-seeking. Since the jailbreak, she said, she has slept with a five-inch hunting blade wedged in the doorjamb of her bedroom.

Vigilance is a way of life here, where the prison is the area’s top employer, said Peter Light, 67, a retired corrections officer who served at Clinton for decades. He said that when he walked through places like a shopping center, he found himself absent-mindedly tugging on door handles to see if they were locked, as he would during cell checks.

“We’re naturally vigilant,” he said.

A version of this article appears in print on June 12, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Guns at Hand, a Prison Town Tracks a Search

Posted on June 15, 2015, in Postings. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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