Gun Laws & Legislation

The Sheriff Who Dared To Ask For Help

Sometimes someone steps onto the public stage with such moral clarity that people stop and really listen. When this person is an elected official who defies stereotypes to deliver a politically incorrect message, people begin to question what they’ve been told.

Pretty soon, journalists begin sticking their pens in such a savant, sure he or she must be full of hot air. Politicians with opposing positions throw mud, certain it’ll stick. But when the person doesn’t deflate and the political dirt won’t obstruct the message, the detractors step back. By contrast, this startlingly honest official can show them for what they really are.

Such is how those who would ban guns now see Sheriff David Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis. Sheriff Clarke has decades of law enforcement experience in a large city—and he is a vocal defender of the Second Amendment.

Sheriff Clarke began speaking out about gun rights after he saw that the police were struggling to effectively protect the people of Milwaukee. The average response time for 9-1-1 calls in the city of Milwaukee had grown to nearly an hour.

“If people have to wait an hour for help, then they have to be able to protect themselves until the good guys arrive,” Clarke says.

With budgets being cut, Sheriff Clarke had to reduce his force. The same thing has been happening with the Milwaukee Police Department. Given this situation, Sheriff Clarke decided to ask the residents of Milwaukee County for help. He went to a radio studio and recorded a series of public-information spots.

In one radio spot, Sheriff Clarke asked: “With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed or you could fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course on 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 had decided it was his duty to tell residents they could now get a permit to carry a concealed firearm. This was a relatively new development. In 2011, the state of Wisconsin actually became the 49th state to allow citizens the right to carry concealed handguns. (Illinois was forced by the courts to be the 50th last year.) By law, the Wisconsin Department of Justice must now issue a concealed-carry license to any resident applicant who is 21 years of age or older and who is not prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm.

As a former homicide detective, Sheriff Clarke knows firsthand how important this freedom is. U.S. crime statistics published by the U.S. Census show that in 2010, for example, the violent crime rate for Milwaukee was higher than the national average by 159 percent.

“To put it bluntly, self-defense is the first law of nature,” Sheriff Clarke said recently in an exclusive America’s 1st Freedom interview. “When good people have the freedom to carry concealed firearms, society gets safer.”

Sheriff Clarke is not politically naïve. He is, and was at the time of the radio campaign, well aware that asking individuals to take some responsibility is a direct attack on the politically correct view of gun controllers. Anti-gun elites would argue that citizens can’t be trusted as “partners.” Citizens who don’t have armed escorts are simply supposed to call 9-1-1 and wait; they are not supposed to protect themselves and their loved ones with potentially lethal force. No, the average person can’t be trusted with so much freedom, even if it is a founding principle of our free republic, says Milwaukee’s Mayor Tom Barrett and others who oppose Second Amendment-based rights.

Next page – The CNN Piers Morgan encounter