Urging Citizens To Carry Guns, Milwaukee Sheriff Stirs Controversy

Category: Politics / Feb 01, 2013 11:47AM EDT
Remarks by the Milwaukee County sheriff in Wisconsin have lead the public to worry over the reliability of the police in protecting public security. Sheriff David Clarke said recently during a TV interview that people should learn to arm themselves, and calling 911 is no longer the best choice. "With officers laid off, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back," said Clarke. The remarks caused an intense debate after being uploaded on the internet. Amid questions, Clarke kept to his opinion, explaining that police officers are forced to be laid off due to financial difficulties, and so citizens should take the responsibility to protect themselves. Some officials say protecting public security is the duty of the police. It is not that the police are unreliable, but what Clarke said is unfounded. "911 responses are not good enough, you can't rely on it, it's not your best option and suggest that people essentially get a gun. I don't think that's particularly responsible. You know there's already more than enough guns in this country. We have, I think, 350 million guns in this country, which is about the population. We also have the highest rates of gun homicide anywhere in the world. Even state by state, the states that have the strictest gun control laws have the lowest per capita gun crimes. The states with the loosest gun control laws have the highest," said Chris Abele, executive of Milwaukee County. "What we thought terribly irresponsible is that he didn't mention at all the risks associated with having a gun in the home, and led people to believe that there are only benefits and no risks," said Jeri Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. Clarke emphasized the budget cut has brought difficulties to the police. And with his remarks being quoted by gun sale ads, people have begun to doubt he said it for the benefit of his department. "There is some talk that his real interest was in sending a message to the county executive that he needs to increase his sheriff department budget. If that's true, that's really reprehensible to put public safety in danger, to put the public in danger for a political game," said Bonavia. The debate is still going on, and so is the panic it brought. "I think it's very frightening to see how he wants to handle life's crises. You are asking us to defend ourselves. This isn't in the 1600s and the 1700s and I'm out shooting for bear and deer and hunting for my life," said Karen Debhard, a local resident. Video Source: CCTV