After delivering a speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention discussing the concept of self-defense, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke talked to Guns.com about the changing demographics of gun ownership.
In some ways, law enforcement has become more accepting of gun rights, specifically self defense, in some cities but mostly counties. Being sheriff of Milwaukee — the surrounding area of the city of the same name — we posed the question to Clarke, “Are urban areas, which are traditionally hesitant to support gun ownership, coming around to adopt more a more rural attitude?”
“As we’re seeing, especially in urban areas, more and more violent crime — crime is on the rise, or it is in my county — we’ve had some incidents where people were able to defend themselves with the use of a firearm,” Clarke said. “Wisconsin recently passed the personal protection act, which allows a citizen to get a permit and go concealed with a — or armed with a concealed weapon — so we’re seeing this thing play out more in urban centers because of the rise in violent crime and there has to be a counter to it.”
When asked about what the neighboring city of Chicago could do to curb its gun violence epidemic, his answer was succinct, “Get a new police chief.” Clarke is not a fan of Chicago’s Supt. Garry McCarthy policing methods.
“This blame the gun stuff, blame the gun, blame the gun — the gun’s not the problem,” Clarke said. “It’s the person behind the gun and that’s usually the career criminal that keeps being shown leniency gets put back into circulation in the neighborhood and re-arms himself and goes on to kill and maim, rape and rob good law abiding citizens.”
Clarke explained, “When it comes to policing, the first thing you have to do is establish a relationship with the community you serve in. Because the people have got to be on your side.”
“You create that relationship, they will help you identify the bad guys. Then you arrest the bad guys, so you put together cases that will stand up in court,” Clarke said. “And after that you need a judiciary, judges at the state level, and prosecutors that are on the same page with the police so you don’t undo the work and send those criminals right back out through that revolving door and you keep that locked up for the longest period of time allowable by law.”
Clarke has been a law enforcement officer since 1978 and he was appointed sheriff of Milwaukee in 2002, and has since been elected to the position three times. He gained the nation’s attention and the support of gun owners across the country last year — during the height of the gun control debate — when he launched radio ads advising county residents to prepare to fight back since local police forces are understaffed and likely unable to fight off a criminal attack.