Sheriff David Clarke calls guns 'great equalizer'

By The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel March 2, 2013 6:52 am

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has released a new public service announcement, suggesting residents can arm themselves to protect themselves against crime.

The spot started airing Friday as Milwaukee County's highest-profile law enforcement officers -- Clarke and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn -- are part of the national debate over proposed gun control measures.

Clarke's 30-second audio spot seems to take aim at the jurisdiction of the Milwaukee Police Department and the court system.

"Violent crime went up nearly 10% in Milwaukee. Are you the next victim?" Clarke says. "You don't have to be, but that's your call."

The sheriff says a "soft on crime court system" puts armed criminals back on area streets, but that residents can get a gun to protect themselves.

"Now it's the crook who has to wonder what you might do," Clarke says. "It could be a great equalizer, but you always have to think survival."

Audio: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke's new radio ad - YouTube

Milwaukee city and county leaders, the Greenfield Police Department and the president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association criticized a January radio spot in which Clarke suggested that calling 911 and waiting are not the best options when it comes to personal safety and that residents should consider taking firearms classes. The ad led to national news exposure for Clarke, including an appearance debating the ad on CNN with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The ads are funded by taxpayer money.

Sheriff department spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said the new radio spot started airing Friday on WISN-AM (1130) and WTMJ-AM (620). It's in a rotation with public service announcements targeting drunken driving and texting while driving, McLaughlin said.

The new gun ad won't run at the same time as Clarke's earlier ad, the spokeswoman said. "That one had gotten so much exposure that he opted to swap with another," she said.

Second American Revolution Fox Interview w/Sheriff David Clarke Jr Milwaukee County Sheriff - YouTube

Meanwhile, Flynn followed up heated testimony before the U.S. Senate about gun control by serving as a guest on television shows Thursday and Friday to press his argument that Congress should enact restrictions on gun sales.

In appearances on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Thursday and MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on Friday, Flynn elaborated on what he called "a slow-motion mass murder" taking place in U.S. cities.

The problem is reflected in the homicide rate and officers facing criminals with semiautomatic handguns and with assault weapons.

"I think it's fundamental that we start to respond, recognizing that the rights of communities are every bit as important as the rights of individuals," Flynn said.

The chief also talked about an exchange he had Wednesday in U.S. Senate testimony with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who argued prosecutors should pursue more cases against people who lie on forms when they're required to get background checks for purchasing guns. Flynn argued with Graham, talking over the senator at times, dismissing such efforts as a "paper chase" that wouldn't solve the problem.

"I was frustrated because I was hearing talking points. I wasn't in a discussion. I was hearing an NRA talking point coming out of the mouth of the senator," Flynn told MSNBC guest host Chris Cillizza on Friday. "The issue is background checks work. They prevent the wrong people from buying guns."

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