By Greg Campbell
Each day, as tensions mount on both sides of the gun rights discussion, more and more sheriffs and state officials have made it clear that they will not participate in the enforcement of laws that violate the Constitutional right to self-protection.
One sheriff, in particular, has gone one step further in making his stance clear. In a 30-second radio ad, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. encouraged listeners to familiarize themselves with firearms and to secure the means of individual protection because “calling 911 and waiting isn’t your best option.”
In the ad, Clarke stated,
“I’m Sheriff David Clarke and I want to talk to you about something personal- your safety. It’s no longer a spectator sport and I need you in the game. But are you ready? With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting isn’t your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under your bed, or fight back. But are you prepared?
Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We’re partners now; can I count on you?”
Sheriff Clarke’s declaration reveals a grim, unpleasant truth in American society. While trained professionals should be called, the simple fact is that it is unrealistic to expect a physical response from a police officer in less time than it takes for an intruder to come inside your home.
However, while Sheriff Clarke has received praise from gun owners across the country who have already realized the value of such a message, Clarke has received criticism from several people in the gun control camp.
Roy Felber, the president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association was critical of Clarke’s ad, saying, “That doesn’t sound too smart. People have the right to defend themselves, but they don’t have the right to take the law into their own hands.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was critical as well, stating, “Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie.”
However, as Barrett was beaten up several years ago by someone with a tire iron, Clarke noted that he would have thought that the ordeal would have made the mayor, “[A] lot more sensitive to people being able to defend themselves in such instances. A firearm and a plan of defense would have come in handy for him that day.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Clarke defended himself:
“’I’m not telling you to “Hey, pick up a gun and blast away” … People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves,’ he said.
But he also said he wanted to call on residents to be law enforcement ‘partners.’ He said he could either whine about budget cuts that forced him to lay off 48 deputies last year or he could get creative.
‘People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement,’ Clarke said. ‘I’m here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We’re not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression.’
‘After sitting down and thinking about this, I’m thinking “Hey, I’ve got an untapped reserve over here, and it’s the public,”’ Clarke said.”