Wisconsin sheriff urges citizens to arm themselves
A sheriff who released a radio ad urging Milwaukee-area residents to learn to handle firearms so they can defend themselves while waiting for police said Friday that law enforcement cutbacks have changed the way police can respond to crime.
In the 30-second commercial, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. says personal safety is no longer a spectator sport.
"I need you in the game," he says.
"With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option," he adds. "You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. ... Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there."
The ad has generated sharp criticism from other area officials and anti-violence advocates. The president of the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association, Roy Felber, said it sounds like a call to vigilantism. . . .
A video of his appearance on Fox is available here.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this discussion:
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. set off alarm bells Friday with a radio spot some view as a call for citizens to arm themselves.
In the radio ad, Clarke tells residents personal safety isn't a spectator sport anymore, and that "I need you in the game."
"With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option," Clarke intones.
"You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back."
Clarke urges listeners to take a firearm safety course and handle 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?"
The spot aired at least once - during the last hour of the Mark Belling show on WISN-AM (1130) on Thursday. Clarke spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin posted it to the department website on Friday. She said she did not know where else or how often the spot would be broadcast, or how much the department spent to air it.
Clarke has served as lightning rod before, most recently when he called for schools to arm teachers after the Newtown, Conn., massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school. News of the sheriff's gun ad quickly generated feedback. . . . .