Dispatches from gun country: ‘As Sheriff, I swore to protect and defend the Constitution’

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., photographed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sporting his Glock 17. (Photo: Ben Philippi)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. this week accepted a federal appointment for assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Clarke has long been an advocate for the right of the people to keep and bear arms. He was kind enough to write an inspiring introduction to my book:

Trends come and go year-to-year and decade-to-decade. But what is presented in this spectacular book is not a trend but a constant.

Immortalized on the pages is the unwavering passion and allegiance to our American way of life. Ben has captured the timeless desire to uphold the great Second Amendment to our Nation’s greatest treasure – our Constitution.

The people in this book represent the incredible potential of the Constitution, where men and women from all regions of our United States, representing all manners and walks of our national life, come together as one.

If you look into their eyes, you see an unwavering allegiance, not only to their community, but to their partnership with her stewards in the law enforcement family. This means a great deal to me because I have, and continue to devote my life to law enforcement. It has been out of a great sense of love, hope and desire to see this great nation flourish in peace and order.

It is common for me to tell the residents of our cities and towns that law enforcement is a shared endeavor. Cops (the term that I have used affectionately for more than thirty-eight years) can never succeed in our sacred duty to protect through our efforts alone.

Our success depends on the moral and legal authority generously bestowed upon us by the governed. It depends on the willingness of our citizens to share with law enforcement, the often hidden truths of what transpires in our communities at their darkest hour. We rely on our public’s willingness to risk their own personal safety when necessary.

To do this, they must be granted the tools necessary. The Second Amendment allows this.

Our success depends on our citizens trusting in the integrity of our system of justice. It relies on fellow Americans sharing adherence to the timeless code of fairness, community, safety and honor that has been the hallmark legacy of this great Republic.

I continue serving in urban policing after five decades because I love it. It has been my experience that the public’s support of law enforcement is strong and steadfast. It must be that way. For in our great nation, the protectors reside not outside and aloft from our populace, but among them, in daily life and in shared communities.

As I turn the pages of this remarkable book, I ask myself, ‘from what well does the passion evident on these pages spring? From what cornerstone is the trust and love of our great nation built?’

It comes from the great foundation of our sacred Constitution. Our foundation rests in a letter crafted and attested in 1776 by businessmen, merchants and farmers alike. It speaks of our shared values and addresses a despotic tyrant. It is a letter in which, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Thomas Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people.

We hold these truths to be self-evident and as relevant today as back then. All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

What our founders were discussing, were the risks to their lives, fortunes and sacred honor that not only our nations law enforcement and military members encounter, but all our citizens, time and time again, every day, in every corner of our society.

We confront these risks from a position of strength; from a position of liberty and with a shared sense of purpose. I also personally confront them with my faith which is a great comfort to me. Not simply my faith in our system of justice, or the integrity of my profession, or the strength of our laws, but my faith in our greater purpose and freedoms as designed by our Creator.

I see a great deal of strength, faith and honor in the people who appear on the pages of this book.

I have, and always will, have faith in the American people. We The People can, must and will succeed together.

Read more perspectives on America’s gun culture in Ben Philippi’s book “We The People.”