Santa Claus is coming to town — with a legally concealed handgun.
A sheriff’s office in Colorado tweeted a photo of someone dressed as Saint Nick getting his concealed carry permit, sparking outrage from some who slammed the post as insensitive.
The picture showed a white-haired and bearded Kris Kringle wearing a Christmas-themed shirt under red overalls as he sat with a staff member of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
“Guess who came in to receive his Concealed Handgun Permit today?” the tweet read, along with a Santa-face emoji. “Did you know the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has issued 49,750 Concealed Handgun Permits with another 2,560 awaiting to be issued?”
Social media users were quick to lash out, slamming the idea that Father Christmas would want a concealed carry permit as his own holiday present.
“So the dude coming through the Chimney to give presents to your kids will be carrying a concealed handgun? Got it!” responded user Russel Schwartz.
“Santa has a fvcking gun is what you’re going with? Should I show my child this pic? Will it comfort them? Will they love Santa more? Who is this tweet for?” said one outraged user, who went by Jane Austen.
“Posting this tells me your professional judgment is impaired,” another user declared. “What is your message to children here? Santa has a legally concealed weapon? For protection against elves, reindeer, children who take a peek on Xmas eve? There is enough anxiety among children already.”
Another criticized the tweet’s poor timing in wake of the deadly school shooting in Michigan that left four students dead this week.
“I’m sitting here in downtown Oxford, MI, waiting for the candlelight vigil to start to pay tribute to 4 students who were murdered by a handgun smuggled into the school. But by all means, tell kids Santa carries a concealed weapon,” Joseph Johnson tweeted.
The sheriff’s office responded to the backlash to the tweet — which received more than 1,400 responses — with a follow-up explaining they were only trying to use Santa to get the word out about their staff’s work during the holiday season.
“EPSO intended to highlight our staff in the Concealed Handgun Permit Office, not to be insensitive,” the agency tweeted. “Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard working staff.”