milwaukee

Milwaukee County sheriff says 911 no longer best option, urges residents to learn to use guns

by Wisconsin State Journal  |  published on January 30, 2013

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.

“That doesn’t sound too smart,” Felber said. “People have the right to defend themselves, but they don’t have the right to take the law into their own hands.”

Under Wisconsin’s “castle doctrine,” someone who uses deadly force against an unlawful intruder to their home, business or vehicle is presumed to have acted reasonably. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said that as of this week, there are about 155,000 concealed carry permits in Wisconsin.

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